Radya, Taus and Biennales Galore: In Which We Get Excited about 2013

Radya, Figure #1: Stability, 2012

Radya, Figure #1: Stability, 2012

In today’s post on Artforum.com, Linda Yablonsky surveyed the opening of New York’s first post-Sandy season, which saw the triumphant return of galleries like David Zwirner, Casey Kaplan and Wallspace. Well, sort of triumphant. In Yablonsky’s words, all the openings “made the future look like a rolled napkin at an empty seat at the table.” (Read the full report here.)

It got us thinking: what’s on the agenda for 2013?

Well, for starters, it’s a Venice year. A year when art-world talk will be fixated on pavilions and palazzos (and oh those vaporettos!) Back in November, the Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry surveyed the 2013 Biennale calendar for The Economist, highlighting not only Venice, but also Moscow, Sharjah, Istanbul and Mercosul (which Lowry claims is rapidly “becoming a little rival to its more famous cousin in São Paulo.” Color us intrigued.)

But what about Russia? Having prompted everyone to pull on their Free Pussy Riot! t-shirts and tear down towers before they can be built, what next? We labeled one of our year end post “The End of Fun” (after the contentious installation by the Chapman Brothers, which prompted some preludes to censorship when it opened at the Hermitage this fall), which, in retrospect, ignores all there is to look forward to in 2013.

Artguide – ever our source on Russian contemporary art – helped us out by hosting a round table on “Trendspotting 2013.” Participants included Artguide’s Masha Kravtsova, with curators Tania Volkova, Teresa Mavica and Antonio Geusa, among others. Straight off the bat, these group predicts there will be an ongoing debate between the state and its public about the role of art. Alas, with this, the consensus is that censorship will only increase (as attested to by this week’s attack on the Nabokov Museum, where the author’s extensive lepidopterological samples were condemned as “propaganda of pedophilia”…) On this point, artists are warned that they cannot – to quote the proverb – “both have their fish and ride on reindeer.” (Because, clearly, that would be asking too much.)

Radya, from the "Ne Temno" festival, Ekaterinburg, December 21, 2012

Radya, from the “Ne Temno” festival, Ekaterinburg, December 21, 2012

One thing that experts agreed on is that the Russian art world will continue to embrace its provinces. This is especially great news if Ekaterinburg’s Radya – the artist who had seemed to have all but given up hope when his work tumbled down a slag heap during the Ural Biennale – keeps getting better, which he seems to. For the city’s recent “Ne Temno” one-day festival, Radya installed sporty lamp shades on the lights of the central promenade.

While we’re naming names, we already reported on St Petersburg’s new upstart, APERTO – again, we may be biased – but another woman to watch is Taus Makhacheva, a familiar name on this blog and a 2012 Innovation laureate. Taus teamed up with curator Andrey Parshikov in a piece for this month’s Interview Russia in which the artist how she went from Gamsutl, Dagestan, to studying economics in the state university to Goldsmiths to the Liverpool Biennale and back (Hint: she doesn’t believe in mistakes.) The full interview (in Russian) can be found here.

While these are just a few of the faces to watch this year, there’s clearly more to come, with new galleries popping up left and right in Moscow (a fitting rebirth after the fall of the scene’s giants), the treasured Polytechnical Museum getting a makeover, the Garage continuing its work in Gorky Park while the new Jewish Museum of Tolerance kicks into operation in the Garage’s former space at, well, the Garage.  And of course, abroad there is Vadim Zakharov’s much anticipated pavilion in Venice. All of that, and the Moscow Biennale too?

Almost makes us forget that the biggest cultural event in Russia last week may have been this:russias proudest citizen

In short, Happy 2013!!

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8 Responses to Radya, Taus and Biennales Galore: In Which We Get Excited about 2013

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