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.
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.
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).
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.
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Kovalevskiy wrote eloquent introductions to the Biennale’s 2015 theme, taking into account many historical references, as well as anthropological theory, philosophical thought and scientific discoveries.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”.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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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