While Moscow may be prepping for an auction, yesterday, May 18, St Petersburg got something of its own to brag about. Actually, the city has more than a few things to brag about, with the impending announcement of the next Manifesta curator, and the recent contributions of João Ribas‘ research to fledgling APERTO Gallery. Yesterday, however, the city belonged to New Holland Island, the former naval shipyard which is now under the saavy eye of Dasha Zhukova’s Iris Foundation (the same organization responsible for Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.)
While New Holland awaits its full renovation – which is expected to be completed by 2015, and will bring museums and mixed-use facilities to the island – Iris Foundation has been running a summer program called, succinctly, “Summer on New Holland.” Last year’s edition brought Vito Schnabel and the Bruce High Quality Foundation; this year, exhibitions will include collaborations with Berlin’s Peres Projects and New York’s Family Business gallery (a wily little project conceived by Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni, whose work with Russian artist and curator Daria Irincheeva led to a rowdy show of young Russians last summer), as well as a series of public art commissions. In addition, the island will feature a pop-up of the Garage’s bookstore, providing a selection of art publications and international exhibition catalogues (a rare commodity within Russia.)
In general, the island will be the site of much of St Petersburg’s cultural activity this summer. The opening gave a taste of that, with a island-wide parade, themed for Mexican Carnival; free, real tattoos by American artist and train-hopper, Swampy; open air painting sessions; and a concert by Rostov-on-Don hipster band Motorama. Over 12,000 visitors flocked to the island on May 18, 2013, alone. We hope this bodes well for the rest of St Petersburg, one of our favorite cities, but also one notoriously isolated from outside culture.
We wish New Holland all the best with this program and look forward to attending some of these exhibitions and events!