Press Room

International Biennial Association: an Open Symposium in Ekaterinburg

In October 2015 Ekaterinburg hosted a major cultural event – the 3rd Ural Industrial Biennial which brought together artists not only from 14 cities of the Sverldovsk and Chelyabinsk region, but different parts of the world.  The theme for the biennial was Mobilization, focusing on urban industrial past and present, and in what way Russia, Europe and Asia are intertwined, what is the role of culture and contemporary art in the dynamics of mobilization.

That was the context for a meeting of the International Biennial Association (IBA) that  took place in Russia for the first time in history of IBA. On 7-8 October with support of the  Foundation the Ural Branch of the State Centre for Contemporary Arts orgnized an open symposium of IBA ‘The Industrial Biennial as a Resource for Territory Development’.

The symposium program was designed to provide a platform for establishing, researching and exchanging knowledge and information necessary for institutions and professionals engaged in  cultural events.

The IBA was represented by its members from 8 countries: Kate Jarocki (UK), Christian Oxenius (UK), Margarita Conzalez (Cuba), Tomasz Wendland (Poland), Aki Hoashi (Japan), Iosif Bakshtein (Russia) and others.

The other speakers included business and foundations leaders, among which were Natalia Poppel (head of CSR and brand of Severstal), Igor Sukhotin (head of philanthropy programs of Norilsk Nickel), Dmitry Abramov (Strelka Institute program director), Elena Avdeeva(Cherepovets deputy mayor), Elena Kolovskaya (Pro Arte foundation director), Oksana Oracheva (Foundation’s general director) and other representative from educational sphere and creative industries.

Discussions at the symposium were inspiring and numerous. The commissioner of the 3rd Ural Biennial Alisa Prudnikova concluded at the end of the last session that ‘culture is often remembered when you speak about the territory branding and positioning’. ‘We provoke and look for experiments and initiatives under the biennial auspices and this is a real effect of the drive which culture generates.’

Head of educational program of the Ural Federal University Dmitry Moskvin: ‘We need to think bigger and move towards larger-scale projects. It would be by far more effective if various small projects were brought together to build up a new cohesive story which would be associated with a whole region.’

Christian Oxenius: ‘We, the IBA members, have had a chance to see how other biennials work and what we have in common, share ideas, success and mistakes. The symposium gave us an opportunity to be a part of a global structure which can streamline the experience all over the world.’

Oksana Oracheva: ‘No doubt, culture can be a driver for regional development. If you look further, the culture itself generates the context for the region. It can contribute to the fact that people have the desire to create, engage in business and community work. In small areas culture may have purely economic effects. What matters is that culture possesses a common language understood both by the state and business.’