As the rest of the world braces for the Olympics, the art world is stretching out their most sensible flats, in preparation for the summer biennale season. While the biggest events are Documenta and Manifesta, there is also a crop of newcomers that have been turning heads: both Kyiv and Bucharest open their exhibitions today.
While the culture shock continues in Russia, Moscow just kicked off it’s 3rd Biennale of Architecture, taking place at the Central House of the Artists, ArtPlay and the Museum of Architecture. Perplexingly, the biennale seems to have little to do with the Strelka Institute, which has served as a base for the redevelopment of Gorky Park and the new Garage building. Later this summer, these same venues will play host to the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (it’s an old title…)
Today, Kyiv gets its first biennale with Arsenale 2012. In an amusing interview with Artguide’s Masha Kravtsova, curator David Elliot expresses his initial hesitations about the project, until he could tell the founders were well-intentioned: “A biennale is like a pet: if you take it home, you have to take care of it.” Strangely sweet wisdom from a man who titled his biennale “The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art.”
For “the Best of Times and the Worst of Times,” the biennale certainly boasts a formidable artist roster, mixing local favorites like Olga Chernysheva, Boris Mikhailov, Sergey Bratkov and Ilya & Emilia Kabakov (freshly tapped for Monumenta 2013) with international artists like Ai Wei Wei, Yayoi Kusama, Rodney Graham, Yang Fudong, and Phyllida Barlow, who currently has launched a Siege at the New Museum. The selection stays true to Elliot’s extensive experience in Asia (where he was the founding director of the Mori Art Museum) but also throws in a few fresh finds, such as Nikita Kadan, winner of the Pinchuk Art Centre Prize.
Meanwhile, the Bucharest Biennale is trying things on a more manageable scale, with Anne Barlow’s “Tactics for the Here and Now,” a selection of just 19 artists. Among the chosen few are Haris Epaminoda, Wael Shawky and Jill Magid.
The work will be on view until July 22. (Kyiv’s Arsenale will close the following week, on July 31.)