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Moscow Biennal of Contemporary Art




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September 22, press conference and official opening for the 4th Moscow biennale of contemporary art, «Rewriting worlds»

23 September 2011 12:58

On September 22, the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art opens its fourth edition. Titled “Rewriting Worlds,’’ it features 65 artists and 16 groups of artists from 33 countries. The Moscow Biennale, which runs until October 30, is curated by Peter Weibel, director of the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Joseph Backstein is commissioner.

The main project will be located at two venues in central Moscow
— ARTPLAY Design Center
— TSUM Art Foundation.

This year, the Biennale expands its geographic boundaries beyond Moscow, with special projects planned in Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kiev and London.
The Moscow Biennale also features:
— 5 solo shows by special guests;
— 66 special program art projects;
— a parallel program exhibitions

The Moscow Biennale is Russia’s most prestigious contemporary art event. It is supported by the Russian government’s Ministry of Culture, the Moscow city government, ROSIZO State Museum and Exhibition Center, and the Moscow Biennale Art Foundation.

On the eve of the Biennale’s official opening the commissioner Joseph Backstein shared his thoughts about it: «It is not an exaggeration to say that since the 1st Moscow Biennale in 2005, Russian society’s interest in contemporary art and its culture has grown, and this culture now constitutes a significant part of Russian society’s values system. We observe this in the increasing number of visitors to exhibitions at the Moscow Center of Contemporary Art and the popularity of such centers in Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm, Yekaterinburg and other Russian cities. The growing number of Moscow Biennale special projects proves the Biennale’s consolidating role in the world of Russian contemporary art. Among them are numerous projects initiated by the Moscow contemporary art scene. Moreover, Moscow Biennale special projects present a number of exhibitions that will also be held in other cities, such as Kiev and London. Thus, we truly can say that Russian contemporary art has become an integral part of the international art world.»

The Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art is considered one of the largest, most prestigious and trend-setting contemporary art events in Russia and abroad. It owes its immense popularity to the participation of leading curators, philosophers and experts of present-day art. This year the organizing committee chose Peter Weibel to curate the main project.

«I believe that today Moscow is a more proper place than, say, London or New York, to search for an answer to a question «What is modernity?» — commented Peter Weibel after his appointment as curator.

This year’s theme is, “Rewriting Worlds,” which proclaims that art is a sphere where new things are unceasingly generated. What contemporary artists do is rewrite the existing world conveying their ideas in their artistic work.

According to Peter Weibel, «we live in an era of re-discovering the once forgotten chapters of those historical and geographic coordinates that for a long time remained in the outskirts of our attention zone; it’s an era when we revisit historical concepts and events. Contemporary art and the modern world are a part of the global «rewriting program.» We observe how Indian art «rewrites» European art and vice versa; how European art «rewrites» Asian art, which in turn, «rewrites» the art of North America. We witness a significant remapping of the traditional art centers.»

The main project of the Moscow Art Biennale will bring together artists from around the world: from Chile to China, from the Ukraine to the United States, from Austria to Indonesia. Both established and young artists will be participating.

Commenting on the format of the main project, Peter Weibel says: «While working on it, I tried to be fair to different artistic means of expression and techniques. It was important for me that these means of expression were accurate, spoke on the language of modernity, and, combined with each other to reflect the concept of the project. Therefore, at the exhibition one can see paintings and drawings, video and sound installations. I paid particular attention to interactive projects. But certainly, I was just as much concerned about the meaning that each work has in it. There will be quite a few so-called political works at the exhibition. For example, Gerhard Richter’s painting is not just a painting, it also refers to 09/11, and the piece by Richard Hamilton does not just show us a map of Israel, but it asks us questions about war.»

One of the highlights of the Moscow Biennale will be the Russian premiere of the worldfamous artist Rebecca Horn, «Moon Mirror Journey».

“My film is a journey from New York to Samarkand, via Naples, Avignon, Berlin and Tokyo,” said Rebecca Horn on the eve of the Moscow premiere. “I have been collecting video material about my installations for more than 20 years, as very often they were on display for a few weeks only, and then they disappeared forever. Thus, this film was the only way to save my work.”

The Biennale also features 13 works by Russian artists, such as the Blue Soup and Electroboutique groups, Learning Film Group (Yevgeny Fiks, David Riff, Ilya Budraitskis, Nikolay Oleynikov), Alexei Borisov & Olga Nosova and VTOL, as well as artists Marina Alekseeva, Nadezhda Anfalova, Valery Chtak, Alina Gutkina, Olga Kiseleva (Russia/France), Taisiya Korotkova, Igor Makarevich and Yelena Yelagina, Taus Makhacheva, Joulia Strauss (Germany / Russia).

“Studying about 300 portfolios of Russian artists I saw a tendency for «decompression» and «deframing». In Soviet times the former generation of artists withdrew from public places to private rooms in order to preserve and to protect the autonomy of the artwork. By doing his they already «deframed» the artwork as a closed system and turned it into a collective experience. They in effect changed the autonomy of the artwork and also the public. The best artists of the contemporary generation benefit from this launch,” says Peter Weibel.

The exhibition at TSUM Art Foundation accentuates a perforated component of contemporary art. Here the viewer «meets» the artist as a person, an individual involving him with interaction. Many of the works engage the viewer to do something, to get involved, to be proactive. For instance, the installation «River Crossing Puzzle” by Ahmet Ögüt offers viewers a puzzle: how characters whose figures are cut out of cardboard, can cross the river when the boat can accommodate only two passengers, and some characters cannot be left alone with each other. Achim Mohné & Uta Kopp offer visitors an opportunity to become street artists. The locations of the Biennale’s venues are marked on a large-scale image-map taken from the space; and anyone can make an inscription. Using a special technology, produced images will be projected on the wall. One can also leave a message on the web-site http://www.remotewords.net/forum/1.html. The project encourages !uscovites to participate more actively in public life.

The ARTPLAY Design Center is also waiting for an active and curious audience. The exposition starts with an interactive installation, “Fly” by rAandom International, which develops the ideas of kinetic art, but the motion is controlled through a computer. “Fly” moves in space, reacting to the behavior of spectators. Thus, the traditional distribution of roles is completely reversed: not the visitor but the work evaluates the reaction to it. Korean artist Yong-Seok Oh continues the theme «rewriting worlds» in his work “Siamese Montage”, which imitates stereoscopic devices. Looking at them, one can see visual effects, when two objects are merged into one image. Through this, the artist wants to emotionally enrich reality. Further, a well-known Scandinavian artist, Olafur Eliasson, presents, “Afterimage Star”. Colored hexagons will be projected on the wall, composing an image of “Constructivist abstraction” at their intersection. Light and color create a new hallucinogenic space. Finally, an installation by Gints Gabrans, “Bloodlight,” will be a surprise for the audience with a white laser light reflected in drops of blood from different people, and which dissolves into colors of the spectrum and is fixed on a piece of photo paper. The produced prints are unique portraits. Five of these giant “portraits” will be shown at the exhibition. Addressing the audience of the 4th Moscow Biennale, Peter Weibel summarizes: “In my perspective, an ideal viewer is one who is willing to integrate and interact with the artwork, to engage in a dialogue and, thus, to realize his/her own presence and role in art”.


Art Guide, a monthly magazine of What’s On in the Russian art world, will have a special focus on the Biennale that will include special guest exhibitions, special projects, and parallel programs. Each magazine will include a copy of the Biennale Guide. Art Guide will be available at the venues of the main project and some special projects. Detailed information on all Biennale exhibitions is available on www.artguide.ru.

The Biennale Way is a unique guide-application to mobile devices under the iOS platform for contemporary art biennales worldwide from the art agency, The July 16. By scanning a designer’s QR-code, the Biennale Way Moscow will define your location and provide the most convenient itinerary for discovering the Biennale. Easy navigation is based on Google Maps and Street View. The Biennale Way offers brief interviews with the Biennale curators who will speak about an exhibition along with visual associations related to the main idea of an exhibition. You can take pictures or make a video of an exhibit that will be saved in the Favorites folder, without closing the application.





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