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The 6th edition of The Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art will take place in Ekaterinburg in fall 2021. The theme announced is A Time to Embrace and to Refrain from Embracing. The Biennial team pushes forward its work on the project and makes every effort to ensure that the 6th edition takes place on time in 2021. The new theme was discussed back in January and over the past months it has acquired ever greater relevance.
Since 2020, the Biennial organizing institutions include The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, The National Center for Contemporary Arts in Ekaterinburg and The Center for Support and Development of Contemporary Art ZAART.
The Ural Industrial Biennial is the major international contemporary art project in Russia. Since 2010, supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Biennial explores industriality as a historical heritage and a current practice in the Ural region. During this time, more than 300 artists from 70 countries took part in it and 14 industrial enterprises of the city and the region hosted it. The Ural Biennial is the only Russian biennial among the members of The International Biennial Association.
The 2021 Biennial theme is a slightly altered Ecclesiastes quote: “A time to embrace and to refrain from embracing.” The project will conceptualize such subjects as touch, the right to touch, bodily boundaries and private experience. As noted by the Biennial team, “while during the first meetings on the theming we focused our attention on the shifting conventions of interpersonal communication, on the ethics of touch, on the mechanics of gestures, now we are facing the unambiguous impossibility to contact. The sensations and actions that once seemed indefeasible—to hug a loved one, to mechanically touch your face, to push a door open with a bare hand, to pay cash—are temporarily inaccessible to us.”
Immortality—the theme of the 5th project—became a starting point for the reflection on the present and the future of human existence. “When searching for the new theme, we tried to answer the question: ‘What do we do after Immortality?’ And we found the answer in abstracting from the macrocosm of immortality and moving towards the microcosm of our own body and its new condition in today’s transitional moment. Of course, the topic of embracing vastly resonates in the present challenge of refraining from intimacy and touch, but I am sure that this dilemma will remain relevant for quite a while,”—comments Alisa Prudnikova, the Ural Biennial Commissioner.
The theme and the statement are conceived by the Biennial team, and the main project curator is selected by the expert committee. The committee consists of the previous editions main projects curators: Xiaoyu Weng, João Ribas, Li Zhenhua, Biljana Ciric, Iara Boubnova, Cosmin Costinas, as well as Bige Örer, Director of Istanbul Biennial, Fatoş Üstek, Director of Liverpool Biennial, Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt, founder of blockchain.art and former director of viennacontemporary, Olga Shishko, Head of the New Media Department at the Pushkin Museum, and Alisa Prudnikova, Commissioner of the Ural Biennial. The 6th Biennial main project curator will be announced in summer 2020.
In 2019, the main project curator was Xiaoyu Weng, the Associate Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. For the first time in the project’s history, the Biennial took place at the actively operating enterprise—The Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant, part of Rostec Corporation. The 5th Biennial main project titled For a Multitude of Futures: Overcome the Limits of Immortality won The Art Newspaper Russia Exhibition of the Year Award.
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