Siberia’s 11th Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale – in pictures

Siberia’s largest contemporary art event returns for its 11th edition.

The Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale runs until 30 December 2015 at the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre. The three-month event features some of the best regional artists, as well as special projects by international practitioners.

The Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre, on the opening night of the XI Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale, 2015. Photo: V. Dmitrienko. Image courtesy the Krasnoryarsk Museum Centre.

The Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre, on the opening night of the XI Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale, 2015. Photo: V. Dmitrienko. Image courtesy the Krasnoryarsk Museum Centre.

Founded in 1995, the Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale is this year at its 11th edition. The 2015 art event opened at the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre on 30 September and will run until 30 December 2015.

Since 2007, the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation – a charitable foundation for cultural initiatives – is the Biennale’s general partner. The curator for the 2015 iteration is Sergey Kovalevskiy (b. 1960), Deputy Director of the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre, where he has worked since 1997, curating a variety of exhibitions as well as the Biennale.

The 2015 Biennale comprises a main museum exhibition with 30 participating artists and a public art section with five international artists, as well as special projects, screenings, educational and public programmes.

Alexey Martins, 'Mental wood', 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Alexey Martins, ‘Mental Wood’, 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

The Biennale has since 1995 explored a variety of themes related to contemporary society and life in an increasingly modernised, globalised and digitalised world, and has taken titles such as “Art of Memory” (2001), “Fiction Stories” (2003), “In Depth” (2011) and “Love Space” (2013).

Leonid Tishkov, 'Look at your home', 2015. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Leonid Tishkov, ‘Look at Your Home’, 2015. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

The 11th Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale is entitled “Practice of Touch”, and engages with the multi-layered meanings of ‘contact’ and ‘touch’, through sociological, philosophical and scientific perspectives, to investigate the differing degrees to which our human, social interactions manifest. Through an exploration of the urban fabric and the city, artists also dig into the meaning of ‘contact’ between citizens and the urbanscape.

Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, 'Queue', 2015. Photo: O. Timopheeva. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, ‘Queue’, 2015. Photo: O. Timopheeva. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Leonid Tishkov, 'Look at your home', 2015. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Leonid Tishkov, ‘Look at Your Home’, 2015. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Practice of Touch

Kovalevskiy wrote eloquent introductions to the Biennale’s 2015 theme, taking into account many historical references, as well as anthropological theory, philosophical thought and scientific discoveries. Delineating the ‘phenomena of touch’, the curator discusses how ‘contact’ (or touch) forms the basis of “mutual existence” and “the challenge of co-existing with others”. Kovalevskij writes:

The philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy believes that touch is the essence of coexistence, which is discovered at the very depths of intimacy. ‘Touching is the process of making us ourselves’.

The curator talks about how contact is an anthropological and social manifestation, but also the result of particle physics. An analogy, for him, between the universe and its physics and the artistic community, includes the interaction between fundamental forces, which cannot lack “weak interaction”.

Evol, 'Mind the Gap', 2015. Photo: V. Dmitrienko. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Evol, ‘Mind the Gap’, 2015. Photo: V. Dmitrienko. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Olga Croitor, 'Secret Room', 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Olga Croitor, ‘Secret Room’, 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Artists determine relationships with the world, and interactions with viewers. Artworks in turn influence audiences and move them in different ways, exposing, questioning and challenging issues related to our contemporary times.

Kovalevskij quotes from Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980) to round off his point:

Taking into account the form that we possess, the subject that we represent, all the organs and functions that we accomplish, the formation must elicit the particles. We are those who establish the relations between the particles: movement or rest, speed or slowness – we choose the relations which are closest to what we want to be and accordingly become. From this point of view the formation is the process, the movement, the desire. Such principle of intimacy and approximation is utterly special… It clearly indicates the zone of intimacy or co-presence of the particles, the movement which none of the particles coming into the zone can resist.

Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, 'Queue', 2015, and Sergey Kowalewsky + Vadim Maryasov, 'Surface of contacts', 2015. Photo: V. Dmitrienko. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, ‘Queue’, 2015, and Sergey Kowalewsky + Vadim Maryasov, ‘Surface of contacts’, 2015. Photo: V. Dmitrienko. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

In the museum exhibition, there are 30 participating artists with a variety of works, from photography and video, to sculpture and installation. Most of them are Russian and include, among others:

  • Kirill and Dmitry Alexandrov (Moscow)
  • Evil art group (Ekaterinburg)
  • Olga Croitor (Moscow)
  • Alexey Martins (Krasnoyarsk)
  • Vasily Slonov (Krasnoyarsk)
  • Leonid Tishkov (Moscow)
  • Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai (St. Petersburg)
Vasily Slonov, 'Cotton bell', 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Vasily Slonov, ‘Cotton Bell’, 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Evil art group, 'Hyphen', 2015. Photo: V. Abikh. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Evil art group, ‘Hyphen’, 2015. Photo: V. Abikh. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Touching the city

There are four participating artists in the public art section:

  • BiP (San Francisco) with a mural
  • Evil art group (Ekaterinburg) with Hyphen
  • Evol (Berlin) with Krasnoyarsk Blocks
  • Vasily Slonov with Quilted Heart
Evol, 'Krasnoyarsk Blocks', 2015, site-specific installation, spray paint, LED light, mixed media. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Evol, ‘Krasnoyarsk Blocks’, 2015, site-specific installation, spray paint, LED light, mixed media. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Berlin’s Evol is known for transforming everyday features of cityscapes into miniature concrete tower blocks. He is inspired by architecture and the urban fabric, which for him are mirrors of society. Krasnoyarsk Blocks is his site-specific public art project for the Biennale – a miniature apartment block emulating its surroundings made with spray paint, LED lights and mixed materials.

San Francisco street artist BiP (Believe in People) has created a mural with a running man in a cemetery with flowers, perhaps a reference to how death can regenerate birth. In the Museum Plaza, Vasily Slonov has installed his Quilted heart, a gigantic message of hope and peace.

BiP, mural on the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre, 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

BiP, mural on the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre, 2015. Photo: A. Volkov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

The series of public artworks in the Biennale function as “Acupuncture of the urban area”, as the curator writes. A conscientious urban project will take into account the needs for social interactions, rendering living conditions as sociable as possible. A close study of the city and its human inhabitants is therefore paramount for creating the best social and urban environment.

Vasily Slonov, 'Quilted heart', 2015, public sculpture. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Vasily Slonov, ‘Quilted Heart’, 2015, public sculpture. Photo: S. Yatmasov. Image courtesy the Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre.

Kovalevskij writes about the inextricable relationship between social living and the urban environment:

The axiom of the intimacy of mutual existence cannot be separated from the strategic vision of the urban area. The practices of gregariousness represent themselves in the texture, aura and style of existential landscape. The combination of the ‘soft structures’ of time and space together with the ‘relational aesthetics’ is included into the palette of modern micro-urban type of practice, creating the unique atmosphere of place.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Russian artists, biennales, museum shows, installations, public art, events in Russia

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