1st Ural Industrial Biennial
Collage by the employees of Ural Worker Printing Press, 1990s
Photo: Andrei Luft
1st Ural Industrial Biennial
Shockworkers of the Mobile Image
9 September – 10 October 2010
8-12 September 2010
Curators: Cosmin Costinas, Ekaterina Degot, David Riff
The National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA) and the Sverdlovsk Region Governor’s Office are pleased to announce the opening of the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial. The biennial will take place in the Ural Workers Printing Press (the main project) and in four large industrial plants (the special projects) in the city of Ekaterinburg. The Ural Industrial Biennial is a format initiated and developed by the director of the National Center for Contemporary Art, Ekaterinburg branch, Alisa Prudnikova.
Ekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk, is the capital of the Soviet Union’s industrial heartland, the Ural. When the USSR collapsed, the city’s many heavy industries fell prey to economic malaise. But today, Ekaterinburg has become one of the hubs of Russia’s resource economy, a site of accumulation following an era of shock privatization, a place where people dream with BRICs and awaken to the harsh realities of economic crisis. How should we understand all this new investor architecture, empty as of yet, all these new service industries, all that new imaginary “symbolic capital” produced by “creative professionals” and their underlings? What role does and can contemporary art play in such a place, when it comes to the half-operational spaces of Soviet industry? Can it be more than a shot in the dark, a fastmoving consumer commodity, a medium for gentrification, a plaything of the superrich? Can it be more than a reproduction?
The biennial’s title is “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image,” and its main venue is the Ural Worker Printing Press, a constructivist building in the center of Ekaterinburg. Built in 1929-1930, this space prompts a dialogue with the most contradictory period of Soviet history, when the party sent shock brigades to build heavy industries in the middle of nowhere. Their superproductive labor was supposedly voluntary, heroic, based on enthusiasm and affect, but overseen by a growing security apparatus. Foreign experts and internationalists participated, reproducing and implanting mobile images of Fordist modernity. Their engagement was genuine, but remained blind to the harsh reality of intensifying exploitation. In many ways, Russia’s transition to global post-Fordist capitalism is no less drastic, and today’s global artists, filmmakers, and architects are shockworkers, too, and internationalists, no doubt, capable of an affective solidarity much like that of the pre-fascist 1930s. They come to distant cities, working nights to build temporary factories on the sites abandoned by industry, factories that reproduce images, affects, and social relations, factories where free time takes on form and becomes a commodity. In Ekaterinburg, this temporary factory taps into a vast reservoir of amateur creativity, harkening back to an age when it seemed like all the shockwork was over… We want to ask: who is really the worker in this new factory? The artist? The curator? The audience? What happens when these workers leave? And what happens when they return?
Curated by Cosmin Costinas (Amsterdam/Utrecht), Ekaterina Degot (Moscow), and David Riff (Moscow/Berlin), “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image” draws together the work of more than 40 artists and filmmakers in a dense curatorial narrative.The exhibition consists almost entirely of copies, reproductions, rips, reconstituted objects and long-distance works, including contributions by: Yuri Albert, Tarsila do Amaral, Pablo Baen Santos, Yael Bartana, Bela Balazs Studio, Guy Ben-Ner, Blue Noses, Christian von Börries, Serguej Bratkov, Alex Buldakov, Cao Fei, Olga Chernysheva, Chto Delat, Evgenia Demina, Jimmie Durham, Harun Farocki, Daniel Faust, M.M. Fontenelle, Joris Ivens, Christian Jankowsky, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Nikita Kadan & Alexander Burlaka, Kolumne Links, Naroa Lizar, Roman Minin, Andrei Monastyrski, Rabih Mroue, Ciprian Muresan, Deimantas Narkevicius, Amshei Nuerenberg, Johannes Paul Raether, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Andreas Siekmann & Alice Creisher & Max Jorge Hinderer, Sean Snyder, Praneet Soi, Hito Steyerl, Mladen Stilinovic, Taller E.P.S. Huayco, Avdey Ter-Oganyan, David Ter-Oganyan, Florin Tudor & Mona Vatamanu, V.M.Volovich, Lin Yilin, Vadim Zakharov, among others.
The exhibition at the biennial’s main venue is accompanied by a program of special projects, curated by Alisa Prudnikova. It inhabits the operational or defunct premises of some of Ekaterinburg’s largest industrial plants. Artists from Ekaterinburg and elsewhere in Russia and from abroad will turn these production sites into a heterogeneous territory for experiments in the industrial environment. Factory spaces themselves become objects of artistic production that pursues a diversity of aims, be they critical, poetic, or social. The special projects program features contributions by artists from Russia, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Mexico, the USA, France, Finland, and Sweden.
The biennial’s opening will be accompanied by an international symposium dedicated to discussing the industrial past and the post-industrial present.
On the occasion of the opening, the biennial will publish a catalogue in two volumes, one of them dedicated to the main venue, the other to the special projects program. Contributors include Oleg Aronson, Keti Chukhrov, Boris Groys, Hu Fang, Ben Seymour and Hito Steyerl.
Main venue: Ural Worker Printing Press (House of Print)
Special projects: Verkh Iset’ Metallurgical Factory, VIZ-Stal’, Ural Heavy Machines Plant, old Uralmash House of Culture, Colored Metals Factory (historical building), Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory
Commissar: Alisa Prudnikova
Intiator: National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA)
Co-Initiators: Governor’s Office of the Sverdlovsk Region, the Sverdlovsk Regional Government with the official support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Organizer: National Center for Contemporary Art, Ekaterinburg branch
Co-organizers: City Administration of Ekaterinburg, “New Art” Regional Public Foundation in Support of Contemporary Art