A few weeks after giving us some teasers, the Moscow Biennale – just around the corner, mind you, from September 20 – October 20 – has released its full artist roster, made up of 72 artists from 40 countries around the globe.
It seems curator Catherine de Zegher has done quite a lot of homework. Of the 72 artists, at least 15 – including two collectives – are from former Soviet countries. And not just Russia (though the country is solidly represented by steady talents like Peter Belyi, Dmitry Venkov, Viktor Alimpiev, Alexandra Paperno and an underrated favorite of ours, Irina Zatulovskaya, who creates touching but tough paintings on found materials like metals and old wood): there also artists from Uzbekistan (Umida Akhmedova, Vyacheslav Akhunov), Kazakstan (Said Atabekov) and Azerbaijan (Rena Effendi.)
These artists find themselves in good company; other names on the list include Biennale-circuit darlings Adrian Villar Rojas, Geta Bratescu, Eva Kotatkova, Wangechi Mutu, Frances Stark, Tavares Strachan, and those Tantric paintings that got all those Ron Nagels hot and bothered in Massimiliano Gioni’s Encyclopedic Palace in Venice. Among the other highlights, the architect Yona Friedman will indulge his vision of utopian architecture, Mona Hatoum will weave one of her crystalline spider-web, and the duo Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan will create a participatory piece taking on the day-to-day routines in Russia.
One routine we haven’t heard about, however? The now daily reports of homophobia and rampant discrimination based on sexual orientation have sparked more than a few alarms in regards to the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. So far, however, we’ve heard very little protest from the art community. Hopefully this is a sign of subtlety, of covert action, rather than cowardice or compliance? It couldn’t be better timing, after all: in these dark days of Russia, what could be more healing than “More Light“?