manifesto of fragility is structured along two distinct axes that function as complimentary conduits for the Biennale’s consideration of fragility. A vertical, temporal line will deliver more than 100 historical artworks and objects spanning two millennia on loan from several diverse collections in Lyon and abroad. A horizontal, geographical line carries the contributions of more than 80 contemporary artists from 39 countries engaging with the topic of fragility in a wide range of artistic practices.
The Biennale posits a point of intersection between the two axes to initiate a focused exploration of fragility within the context of the dazzling yet tumultuous 1960s era of Beirut’s so-called Golden Age, featuring 230 artworks by 34 artists and more than 300 archival documents from nearly 40 collections worldwide. This section of the Biennale acquires added poignance in Lyon, given the city’s historical entanglements with Beirut centred around the 19th century silk trade, and the establishment of the French Mandate in 1920.
Seher Shah works in dialogue with the urban landscapes outside her work spaces, creating drawings, prints, and sculptures that respond to the fragmented identities of the architecture and social fabric in her immediate environment. In Shah’s graphite and charcoal drawings and prints, brutalist architectural forms and concrete colorations are counterbalanced by the lightness with which Shah applies her delicate marks and hatches. More than delineating graphic or lived space, Shah makes lines perform a wide range of tasks with manifold meanings: they abruptly end, bisect sculptural forms, or ambiguously demarcate barriers or enclosures. In Shah’s works, inscribing space has a disruptive potential, invoking broken lineages, fragile political détentes, and hierarchies embedded in histories of architecture and the planning and development of public space.