Moscow Goes Modern
July 16, 2004
Next January, museums across the city will deck their halls with the latest
trends for the first Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.
By Anna Malpas
A dead shark could be hanging in the Tretyakov Gallery next January if British
bad boy Damien Hirst accepts an invitation to show his work at the first Moscow
Biennale of Contemporary Art. More than 50 artists from Russia and abroad are
due to take part in the grandiose event, which aims to put the capital on the
Recently announced at a news conference, the non-commercial art show will be
partially funded by the Culture and Press Ministry, while the chairman of the
organizing committee is former Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi, who now heads
the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency.
The month-long event is scheduled to open January 18, 2005, in a range of
state-owned art venues, including the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum of
Fine Arts, the Central House of Artists, the Shchusev Architecture Musem and the
Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art.
Among those invited to present their work are Britart star Hirst, known for
suspending the bodies of shark, cows and sheep in formaldehyde, and Italian
artist Maurizio Cattelan, who created hyper-realistic sculptures of Adolf Hitler
at prayer and Pope John Paul II felled by a meteorite, an Izvestia report stated.
The final lineup will become known in the next two or three weeks, a spokeswoman
So far, only one participant has been confirmed. California-based video artist
Bill Viola will show installations at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Vremya
Novostei reported museum director Irina Antonova as saying. In Viola's recent
work "The Passions," commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles,
actors depicted extreme grief and despair in a series of slow-motion films.
In addition, an international group of seven curators will create two projects
based on the Biennale's theme, "Dialectics of Hope" (Dialektika Nadezhdy), a
title taken from a book by Boris Kagarlitsky.
The budget for the event has not yet been announced, but Izvestia quoted
coordinating curator Iosif Bakshtein as saying that the Culture and Press
Ministry would contribute $1 million.