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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NO PUNNING ON PUTIN


No punning on Putin
Fourth Moscow Biennale shows fewer political works

By Sophia Kishkovsky. From Web only
Published online: 01 November 2011

MOSCOW. “Rewriting Worlds,” the fourth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (22 September-30 October), displayed unintentional synergy with Russia’s bizarre political scene, opening just two days before prime minister Vladimir Putin announced he would be rerunning for the presidency. The announcement at a congress of United Russia, the dominant Kremlin-controlled party, plunged Russia’s intellectual and ruling elite into debates about whether the move signifies a return to the late Soviet-era stagnation of general secretary Leonid Brezhnev, or whether it offers much needed stability on the path to modernisation.

The announcement coincided with the opening on 24 September of one of the biennale’s special projects, “Media Impact: International Festival of Activist Art”, held at Artplay Design Center, Moscow’s latest arts and design hub on a former factory site. Several works on display at Artplay were among the few in the biennale to reflect the current economic and political climate, including P.I.G.S., 2011, by Paris-based artist collective Claire Fontaine, a map of the debt-ridden countries of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain assembled out of 360,000 matches that were burned at the end of the biennale, and Earth Report, 2010, a series of mini-installations by South Korean artist Kijong Zin, which focus on the geopolitical and ecological threats of globalisation.

The other half of the main exhibition was held in an exhibition hall at TSUM, a luxury emporium. Mercury Group, which owns TSUM, has a controlling stake in Phillips de Pury. Disappointingly, anticipated events such as the arrival of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist, who was invited to attend, did not materialise.


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