The “Manifesta-10” – European biennale of contemporary art – starts on Saturday. For the first time it his held in Russia. The main venue is the Hermitage, building of the Headquarters.
Today a press showing was held there. What can we expect from artists of our lifetime and how politics penetrated art, which is supposed to dissolve borders, in Alexandra Lee’s report.
Alexandra Lee, reporter: “The modern festival “Manifesta-10” is being held in St. Petersburg – mainly inside conservative halls of the Hermitage. One of the conditions of the receiving party was a strict correspondence of all art materials with the current legislation of Russia. That means there will be no pornography, propaganda of same-sex love, smoking, alcohol consumption and inciting international war. Exhibitions and parallel shows of the “Mainfesta-10” will be marked 16+”
Everything which can influence a child’s mind will be age-restricted. Works of classics and even allusions to their works are certainly not included.
Mikhail Piotrovskiy, director of the Hermitage: “Russia has such laws, that censorship is no longer needed. There is a legal document which says there are no violations”
A press-showing in the Headquarters’ Atrium. Not only the vanguard art is interesting, but also a political context. The “Manifesta” hadn’t even begun yet, when a scandal erupted – a group of European artists called on boycotting the biennale. The Dutch organizers of the festival admitted – there was a point they thought of not going to Russia. But they did come.
The main curator – German Kasper Kennick – waving a chocolate cover of the world famous “Made In Ukraine” brand made a call: the “Manifesta” must dissolve boundaries and attract attention solely to art. 50 artists from different countries will participate in the festival, including the US and the UK. There is no one from Ukraine.
Hedwig Feyen, director of the “Manifesta”: “We know that some things in such exhibitions expose specific details of Russia’s current times. And its very important to thank the Hermitage for organizing the 10th “Manifesta”.
Mikhail Piotrovskiy, director of the Hermitage: “It doesn’t matter which country participates. It doesn’t matter whether the art is good or bad. The art is interesting to watch and discuss!”
And there will be a lot to discuss. Painitngs, photographs and cinemas aside, installations are expected to fill the exhibitions. Arguable and vivid, which have no clear-cut interpretations. Here, for example, is the work of a Swiss artist Tomas Hischorn – “Upshlag”, translated as “a slice”. A slice of a building with a destroyed façade – just like after a catastrophe, which we are not insured against even now.
The excursion is held by a guide from London. For her, the matter of going to Russia or not is an easy one: certainly going, to see the country which is being talked about in Britain now not in the best of lights. In politics – just like in art – it is necessary to hear all opinions and see all sides.
Angeama Sepake, curator of festival’s education department: “You can see paintings hanging on the walls of an apartment. These are works of Russian vanguard artists of the early XX century. Those were brought here from the Russkiy Museum. I think it is a very important thing in the context of St. Petersburg – a gratitude to the Russian artists”
The event will be observed by half a million people. The 10th – jubilee – festival will this year spread to several venues: traditional museum halls and theatre stages aside, it will take place in the streets and communal flats. The art is for everywhere.