Russia’s Ural Industrial Biennial announces participating artists

The 3rd Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art unveils impressive roster of Russian and international artists for 2015.

The Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in Yekaterinburg adopts and examines ‘Mobilisation’ as its main point of departure. Organised in collaboration with the Ural branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art, the Biennial includes artists from 20 countries.

The Iset Hotel, the venue of the main project of the Biennial. Photo: Vyacheslav Soldatov. Image courtesy the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The Iset Hotel, the venue of the main project of the Biennial. Photo: Vyacheslav Soldatov. Image courtesy the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

On 1 August 2015, the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art announced the list of participating artists in the Main Project, including 50 Russian and international practitioners from 20 countries worldwide. This year at its third edition, the Biennial will run from 9 September to 10 November 2015 in Ekaterinburg (also Yekaterinburg) and 10 other cities of Russia’s Ural region.

The Biennial organisers write about the exhibition in a release shared with Art Radar:

While the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art problematized the narrative of a triumph of the post-industrial, the 2nd Ural Industrial Biennial focused on the constructive dimension of art, its ability to actively explore the world and create something new in the process, the 3rd Biennial of Contemporary Art will shift attention from context to actors by raising the question about the relation of contemporary art to the mechanisms of mobilization – the key concept of the modern era, emphasizing new mobilizational instruments, that replaced instruments of classic industrial society.

Previous project of the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art. Image courtesy the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Previous project of the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art. Image courtesy the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Mobilisation and creation

The key term of this year’s edition of the Biennial is ‘Mobilisation’, which should be, according to the organisers, “understood here as an ability to change and rise to a fundamentally different level”. Mobilisation is a pivotal aspect of history, and is becoming ever more relevant. As the organisers state:

Mobilization, as history itself, refuses being relegated to the past and remains current and relevant, from a local mobilization of certain groups to all-national movements. This mobilization can unite people of the same class, national, cultural, ethnic, religious background or those who adhere to certain values or cause; it can be temporary or long-term. It can operate within ideological and mythological space, displacing alternative positions in favor of unification. Can art be part of this process? Can it serve as a stimulus, lend a platform or provide a reflexive understanding of mobilization processes in contemporary society?

The curators of the 2015 edition’s Main Project elaborate on the theme of ‘Mobilisation’ to present two major exhibitions of Russian and international artists. The curatorial concepts will also follow “the logic of the space” of the historic Iset Hotel in Ekaterinburg – a prime example of international constructivist architecture of the 1920s and 1930s and a central building of the NKVD residential compound, which became popularly known as “Gorodok chekistov” (The Town of KGB officers). The venue will also host the Final Exhibition of the Artist-in-Residence Programme, Special Projects, Performance Platform and Research Projects.

Cao Kai, 'Summer 1969', 2002-2012, video. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Cao Kai, ‘Summer 1969’, 2002-2012, video. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Li Zhenhua’s exhibition “No Real Body” is presented as an “extreme way to find out if art has a starting point or an original source of creative energy” – raising important questions about the changing meaning of art, artistic production and artist.

Among the artists in Li’s exhibition are:

Nguyen Trinh Thi, 'In Smoke and Clouds', 2015, video still. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Nguyen Trinh Thi, ‘In Smoke and Clouds’, 2015, video still. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Biljana Ciric’s project “Spaces for Maneuver—Between Abstraction and Accumulation” is centred around the individual body as a site and tool, and explores different aspects of mobilisation, “negotiating individual existence between social abstraction and accumulation, proposing to imagine rather than to produce.”

Among the artists in Ciric’s exhibition are:

Among the Russian artists participating in the Main Project are Alisa Yoffe, Polina Kanis, Svetlana Shuvaeva, Anatoly Vyatkin & Victor Davydov, Yurko Koval as well as the most famous Ekaterinburg-based artist, Timofey Radya.

Jompet Kuswidananto, 'Model of Mass and Explosion', 2014, object. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Jompet Kuswidananto, ‘Model of Mass and Explosion’, 2014, object. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The evolving Ural Industrial Biennial

The Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art was founded in 2010 and is organised by the Ural Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art in Ekaterinburg, the main location of the Biennial. The first edition was entitled “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image” and curated by Ekaterina Dyogot, Cosmin Costinas and David Riff, with more than 250 artists from 59 countries. The 1st Biennial took place mainly in the Ural Worker Printing Press, a constructivist building in the centre of Ekaterinburg. The curators departed from the idea that “artists are the new, post-industrial working class”.

The second edition in 2012 developed the key concepts of the first biennial, focusing on the possibilities of going beyond the binary of production versus consumption in the artistic, cultural and social spheres. It explored the potential of contemporary art as “a means to appropriate and reconfigure (non)exhibition spaces and local audiences”. The 2012 Main Project, entitled “The Eye Never Sees Itself”, was curated by Iara Boubnova.

Svetlana Shuvaeva, 'Untitled', 2014, cardboard, acrylic markers. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Svetlana Shuvaeva, ‘Untitled’, 2014, cardboard, acrylic markers. Image courtesy the artist and the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The 3rd Biennial presents an even richer programming than previous editions. The 2015 Special Project, curated by expert curators, continues on the study of the industrial theme in art as initiated by Kirill Svetlyakov’s “Modern Art Museum: The Department of Labour and Employment” at the State Tretyakov Gallery for the 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2014). The special exhibition will be presented at the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, using part of the museum’s collection.

The Intellectual Platform, organised for the third time in partnership with the Ural Federal University, features “Strategies of Mobilization”, an international symposium with Pierre Belanger (Princeton School of Design), Sarah Wilson (Courtault Institute), Anthony Gardner (Oxford, Ruskin School of Art) and other international guest speakers.

The Parallel Programme includes a series of independent events organised by partner institutions during the Biennial, while the Performance Platform will take place in another constructivist masterpiece – a former Ural Worker Printing House – with a promenade-theatre, a dance performance and a special poetic concert.

The Artist-in-Residence Programme, launched with the 2nd Biennial in 2012, was held from 13 to 26 July 2015 in the Ural Region, when artists from eight countries immersed themselves into different stages of the manufacturing process, such as Metalware Plant, Motorcycle Works, Iron Sculptures and Porcelain Factory, among others. The artists are now preparing a series of site-specific projects to be curated into an exhibition by Zhenya Chaika at the Iset Hotel, the main venue of the Biennial in 2015.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Russian artists, Asian artists, biennials, curatorial practice, artist residencies, events in Russia, news

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