press release

The 5th Ural Industrial Biennial 2019
12.09.2019 - 01.12.2019

Commissioner: Alisa Prudnikova
Main Project Curator: Xiaoyu Weng

The 5th Ural industrial Biennial opens on September 12 and will be on view through December 1, 2019. Entitled For a Multitude of Futures, the Main Project, curated by Xiaoyu Weng (Guggenheim Museum, New York), responds to this biennial’s theme of Immortality by investigating the evermore complex relationship between humanity and technology. It proposes a radical re-imagination of life and death, and of our materialist pursuit of immortality, in order to open up possibilities for a multitude of futures.

The Main Project features more than 20 new commissions and over 90 works by 76 artists and collectives from 25 countries and regions. These artworks feature diverse voices and mediums: paintings speculate a post-apocalyptic school after the Chernobyl disaster; photographs document the vulnerability of human life; multi-channel videos connect planetary infrastructure, indigenous rituals and spiritual traditions; a sound installation engages the history of factory laborers; sculptures inspired by the immortal jellyfish; and a Subterranean Museum of Eternity.

At the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant, the Main Project will occupy the 4th floor in the former optical production workshops; projects of the Artist-in-Residence program will occupy the 2nd floor, along with 3 special projects and the Biennial Archive.

Xiaoyu Weng, Curator of the Biennial's Main Project:
“Informed by a series of interwoven and intersecting protagonists and shorelines, including ‘the Fire,’ ‘Violence and the Mushroom Clouds,’ ‘the Butterfly and the Museum,’ ‘Time,’ ‘the Undead,’ ‘Labor and Boredom,’ ‘the Mirror and the Clear Mirror,’ ‘the Jellyfish,’ ‘Memory and Anamnesis,’ ‘Forgotten Craftsmanship and Knowledge,’ and ‘the Metamorphosing Lives,’ this exhibition choreographs a constellation of experiences to expand our understanding of technology and reimagine its relationship to our lives. It challenges the agenda of a transhumanist eternity, which believes in the technological acceleration to overcome death as the single possibility for humanity’s future.”

The final exhibition of the Artist-in-Residence program—the Biennial's strategic project across 10 cities throughout the Ural and Siberia regions—will present works by 10 artists from 7 countries, who have reimagined the constant presence of industrial traces in the Urals by actively engaging with the local context.

Concurrently, the plant will operate in its regular working mode and the Biennial will have a separate entrance.

The Coliseum Cinema is the second biennial venue. Transforming into the Pavilion of Immortality of Art, it will host part of the Main Project and a series of public programs.

Alisa Prudnikova, Commissioner of the Ural Industrial Biennial, Director of Regional Development at the Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO:
“Immortality is a crucial topic for humanity today. At the biennial, we will consider its various aspects—social, philosophical, and biological. On the territory of an operating enterprise, the conversation about immortality takes on a special tone. In addition, the context of the oldest cinema in the city brings to mind the classic maxim ars longa and along with the “Pavilion of Immortality of Art,” offers a new format for reloading or reprocessing the space.”

The Symposium, the anchor of the Public Program, will take place from September 12–15. It will examine the theoretical contexts underlying the artworks and explore the theme of immortality from several perspectives—biological (genetics, bioengineering, ecology), social, and philosophical.

Taking place in Ekaterinburg on October 28–30, the Industriality and Culture Forum will study the future development of the industrial biennial format and the directions of cooperation between industrial businesses and cultural institutions. The Forum’s partner is The Vladimir Potanin Foundation.

The Ural Industrial Biennial is one of the largest international projects in the field of contemporary art in Russia, organized and conducted by NCCA as part of ROSIZO with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. Since 2010, the Biennial takes place once every two years in non-exhibition spaces in Ekaterinburg and the Ural region, and the cities of the Sverdlovsk region.