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Lyon’s charm lies in its pralines, its traboules and… its museum of contemporary art, the “macLYON“. Yes! I classify this museum on the same level as the pralines, that’s how much I love this amazing cultural place.

What strikes you about this museum is its openness. It is open to the public, to local and international artists, but also to social issues, since macLYON does not hesitate to honour works that carry strong messages.

At the beginning of 2022, four new exhibitions await you, until July 10th, inviting you to change your view on different subjects. Here’s an overview of what you can discover…

Article produced in partnership with the macLYON

At the macLYON: 4 new contemporary art exhibitions to discover 1
Entrance to the macLYON – Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon

Enter the arena of Mary Sibande

How can you not be drawn in, or even hypnotised by this masterly work? Mary Sibande invites us to enter an arena where angry red dogs surround us. Our only escape is a woman dressed entirely in red and a voice, that of the artist, which alerts us to the rising violence in South Africa. This fabulous work, ‘The Red Ventriloquist‘, is a theatre of violence where the artist lends her voice to those who have none. Why the red? And what does this ventriloquist really do? To understand this work, you need to know the history of Mary Sibande and her country.

Mary Sibande, The Red Ventriloquist
Mary Sibande, The Red Ventriloquist

In recent years, South Africa has been the scene of many scenes of violence because, despite the end of apartheid, the black population remains in a form of precariousness. Social and economic discrimination still exists in this country where the average annual income of black families is less than 6,500 euros, while it is more than 30,000 euros for white families. These inequalities have given rise to numerous revolts that have had a profound effect on the artist.

For several years, Mary Sibande has been projecting her experience as a black South African woman in her art by creating a character, “Sophie”, which evolves over the years. In her first creations, Sophie was dressed in the typical blue garment worn by female employees in South Africa. Then, over time, Sophie became a priestess-woman now dressed in red.

Sophie’s stories are closely related to the stories I was told as a child by the women in my family, but they go far beyond that. (…) Sophie’s most valuable asset is her capacity for imagination. (…) Most of these situations depict a woman triumphing over the stereotypes that are generally attributed to black women, which have stuck to us for centuries. – Mary Sibande

For this work, Mary Sibande was inspired by a South African expression that associates anger with a red dog. A colour synonymous with frustration and rage. These are the dogs in the arena, which take shape as the injustice grows.

In the middle, the character of Sophie – moulded on the artist’s body – draws a dog with her hands in a shadow play and tries to explain to the enraged how to channel their anger. The red ventriloquist is a powerful piece of work that can only challenge us.

We must also underline the remarkable work of the macLYON teams who have given substance to the arena and to the ventriloquist’s sumptuous dress.

Little odyssey, the exhibition for little (and older!) children

Have you ever noticed that children always have to stand on their tiptoes to get a good look at the works in museums? What if, for once, it was up to the adults to make an effort? This is the approach of this exhibition, which puts the works at children’s level. However, just because this exhibition is dedicated to a young audience does not mean that it presents “sub-works” or that it cannot interest adults! On the contrary: older children are also welcome and will undoubtedly appreciate the very didactic labels that allow all audiences to understand works of contemporary art with messages that are sometimes difficult to grasp if one does not take the trouble to be interested.

exhibition for children at maclyon

The works chosen for this exhibition are an invitation to awaken the senses. You will discover very colourful and sometimes even interactive works. My favourites: Erwin Wurm’s creations, specially adapted to fit children, which invite visitors to play in the museum; Ange Leccia’s arrangement that takes us on a journey with a multitude of globes; or the small matchbox-sized landscapes painted by Numa Droz that force adults to bend over to admire them: a real revenge for children!

And if you feel like an artist, “L’espace Odyssée” invites you to use the pencils at your disposal to create your most beautiful work!

At the macLYON: 4 new contemporary art exhibitions to discover 8

David Posth Kohler’s theatre in relation to the work of Bruce Nauman

macLYON regularly organises “Crossovers”: inviting an emerging artist to respond to an artwork in the collection. For this new crossover David Posth-Kohler has chosen to confront his work with the one by Bruce Nauman.

David Posth-Kohler
David Posth-Kohler

David Posth-Kohler grew up in a circus and magic environment: “My mother was cut into three pieces in boxes and I fed doves that disappeared into hats” – he confides with amusement! An experience that made him see the world as a social theatre and that has influenced him a lot in his art. David Posth-Kohler is particularly interested in the question of the body and staging.

In his installation for macLYON, he creates bells in the shape of faces that ring out as if at the beginning of a play to warn us that the play – in which we are actors – is about to begin. And in the middle, a box with a cast of the artist’s head. A creation that echoes Bruce Naumann, who also made casts of his face and whose videos you can discover in which he staged himself in filmed performances.

At the macLYON: 4 new contemporary art exhibitions to discover 9

Thameur Mejri or a critical look at contemporary society

This is the first time that a French museum has devoted an exhibition to Thameur Mejri, a Tunisian artist born in 1982 who has been considerably influenced by the political context of his country.

Although Tunisia was one of the first countries where the Arab Spring took place, political stabilisation is still pending. Thameur Mejri belongs to a generation that grew up in an environment of dictatorship and surveillance and is now trying to emancipate itself from the powers that be (be it society, family or religion).

In his paintings and drawings, he juxtaposes bodies with objects and pictograms from popular culture. Struggling or merging with this strange iconography, the bodies become hybrid beings in mutation, as if they were trying to emancipate themselves from the doxa that surrounds them.

Thameur Mejri's monumental artworks
Thameur Mejri’s monumental artworks

This accumulation of objects, sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, also shows the limits of the human body and the relationship of dependence we have with those who hold the means of production.

At the macLYON: 4 new contemporary art exhibitions to discover 10

Useful informations

Cité Internationale
81 quai Charles de Gaulle
69006 Lyon (France)

Opening hours:
Until 10 July 2022
Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm


Full price: €8 – €6 until April 2022 (museum partially open)
Reduced rate : €4 – €3 until April 2022
Free for under 18s and non-taxable persons

This article was produced in partnership with the macLYON

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