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The Ural Industrial Biennial is the largest international project in the field of contemporary art in the Russian Federation. It was first organized in 2010 at the initiative of the Ural branch of the National Center for Contemporary Art and is held every two years in Ekaterinburg and other Ural region cities.
This Biennial works with the industrial specifics of the region and explores industriality as historical heritage and a current practice, which involves many people and spaces. Using contemporary art as a vehicle, the project analyzes current changes around the world and integrates the region into the global artistic context. Due to its focus on always finding new perspectives to understand the phenomenon of industriality, the Biennial itself becomes a kind of industry — an industry of meanings.
The Ural Biennial’s main exhibitions are held on sites that are monuments of industrial culture. The location of exhibitions in the former Ural Worker’s Printing House and the Iset Hotel results in the Biennial attracting the interest of the local and global research community to constructivist monuments in Ekaterinburg.
In contrast to the more typical international approach taken when art projects occupy the spaces of decommissioned and abandoned industrial enterprises, the Ural Biennial actively works with operational factories. Exhibition projects as well as an artist-in-residence program are held on factory sites, which offers artists a unique interaction with industrial manufacturing in the Ural region. Works created by artists during their stay at the Ural factories are shown at the final exhibition of the artist-in-residence program.
By creating the opportunity for artists and viewers to interact with industrial sites, the Biennial offers new optics for understanding the problems of industrial and symbolic production, manufacturing and artistic labor, industrialism and post-industrialism.
An important component of the Ural Biennial is its intellectual platform, in which new research approaches are developed and the theme of each project is generated. A number of leading curators from around the world are invited to submit proposals for the creation of the main project (the main exhibition of the Biennial) based on a selected theme, and after reviewing the submitted applications, the international expert committee selects a curator.
In addition to the main project and the artist-in-residence program, the Biennial structure includes special projects — exhibitions and works created by both local and invited curators and artists. The Biennial involves local museums and art institutions in the process: projects organized at their initiative form a parallel program.