Moscow Art Biennale Canceled - Artforum International

The Ninth Moscow Art Biennale, scheduled to open at the Russian capital’s Tretyakov Gellery November 7, was officially canceled by the Russian Ministry of Culture on November 4, The Art Newspaper reports. “The Tretyakov Gallery is a treasury of Russian art,” noted a ministry spokesperson. “The desire to hold a project there rather than in a private or corporate venue must be accompanied by responsibility for the artistic and ethical context of the exhibition. This requires respect for both the unique museum collection of the Tretyakov Gallery and its numerous devotees, the citizens of our country.”

The cancelation likely sounds a death knell for contemporary art in an increasingly censorious Russia. Following the nation’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February, the Ministry of Culture issued a list of blackballed artists whose work may not be shown in the country; the ministry has additionally halted dozens of exhibitions of contemporary art around the country. Of these, several were taking place at the Tretyakov Gallery, including an exhibition of work by Grisha Bruskin, which ministry officials shut down shortly after its April opening, citing “technical difficulties.” The same issue was said to be behind the shuttering of the group show “Entrance into Red Door,” which failed to open April 30 as planned. That show launched June 11 under the revised title “An Object, a Space, a Man,” with many questioning whether more than the show’s name had been altered.

The closure of the Moscow Biennale represents a tightening of the fist of censorship, as the event’s organizers, perhaps anticipating such a fate, had sought to show only work that fell under the pro-Putinist rubric. Additionally, they had invited only Russian artists to participate in the event. Among the pieces that had been chosen to appear were Moscow artist Sergei Bugaev’s Memory, an installation dedicated to Soviet war monuments destroyed in “European countries,” and a work by St. Petersburg-based Tatiana Badina comprising infant-size white shirts into whose pockets were tucked prayers for the protection of soldiers in war.


By arnia