January 28-February 28, 2005. Press days: January 27-28

Main Venue: former Lenin Museum, Moscow

Joseph Backstein, Daniel Birnbaum, Iara Boubnova, Nicolas Bourriaud, Rosa Martinez, Hans Ulrich Obrist

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The First Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, initiated by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, marks an important step forward in the process of reintegrating contemporary Russian art into the international art world.

One of the most obvious consequences of political and economical stabilisation in Russia is the growing interest of Russian society in contemporary culture, and more precisely contemporary art. In the last decade a totally new Russian art infrastructure has emerged through art fairs, galleries, non-profit exhibition spaces, festivals and conferences. For these reasons, 2005 is the right time for Moscow to create a major international art event, the first of its kind in the country.

The Moscow Biennale aims to become not only a great event in the artistic life of Moscow and Russia but also to play an important social, cultural and political role internationally. It is intended to be not only a particular powerful event, but a new institutional project that will strengthen relationships between curators, art historians, managers, federal authorities, sponsors and trustees, mass media and public opinion on contemporary art both in and outside Russia itself. It is the organisers’ intention that The Moscow Biennale will become a reproducible strong structure that will find its place in the network of other major international art forums.


Under the theme, Dialectics of Hope, the main exhibition will present art that focuses on one of the most fundamental experiences of a modern human being: hope. On the one hand, hope exists as a private existential feeling, touching particularly on issues of care or caring, on the other it is found in the older Utopian vision of a shared social feeling. The dialectical character of hope today as well as its emergence in different forms of contemporary art will be the focus for the exhibition, reflecting the influence that social and political changes exert on the way we attempt to anticipate our own future and the development of the societies to which we belong. In politically turbulent and worrying times, the function of hope as an organising principle of our lives becomes increasingly apparent.


The first Moscow Biennale will include a main project organized by its international curatorial team, and a series of parallel events. The selection of artists and the development of the main projects have been a collective endeavour of the curatorial team.

The 2005 exhibition is the first element of a larger project conceived as a trans-generational endeavour that will unfold in a series of steps until 2007. This first manifestation concentrates on young artists from all over the world. Its main aim is to describe the state of contemporary art and the new issues addressed by the artists of the 21st century. The same curatorial team will also work on the 2007 exhibition.

The main project of the Moscow Biennale 2005 will be accompanied by a series of special projects and a wide parallel program representing contemporary art from Russia and the former Soviet Union. The events will be held in a number of key venues in and around the centre of the city of Moscow.


Joseph Backstein, Co-ordinating Curator (Russia), Deputy Director of the State Centre for Museums and Exhibitions ROSIZO – Curator of the Russian exhibition at the 25th Biennale in Sao Paolo, 2002 – Curator of the Russian Pavilion at the 48th Venice Biennale, 1999.

Daniel Birnbaum (Sweden/Germany), Rector of the Stadelschule Art Academy, Frankfurt am Main and Director of Kunsthalle Portikus – Co-curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003 – International Foundation Manifesta Board Member (Amsterdam), since 2000.

Iara Boubnova (Bulgaria), Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia – International Foundation Manifesta Board Member, since 2002 – Co-curator of Manifesta 4 (Frankfurt am Main), 2002 – Curator of Bulgarian National Participation in the 48th Venice Biennale, 1999.

Nicolas Bourriaud (France), Director of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (with Jerome Sans), Founder Director of the magazine Documents – Co-Curator of the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, 2005 – Curator of the Aperto at the 45th Venice Biennale, 1993 – Curator of Unmoving Short Movies at the Venice Biennale, 1990.

Rosa Martinez (Spain), Artistic Director of the Arsenale, Venice Biennale, 2005 – Chief Curator of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art – Curator of the Spanish pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003 – Curator of the 3rd SITE Santa Fe Biennale (New Mexico), 1999 – Artistic Director of the 5th International Istanbul Biennale, 1997.

Hans Ulrich Obrist (Switzerland/France), Curator at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Co-curator of the exhibitions Cities on the Move, Laboratorium, Utopia Station at the 50th Venice Biennale, 1st Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 1. The first volume of his ongoing interview project was recently published: Hans Ulrich Obrist Interviews (Milan: Edizioni Charta, Pitti Imagine 2003).

Chairman of the Organizing Committee: Michail Shvydkoy, Head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Film.

Commissioner: Evgeny Zyablov, Director of the State Centre for Museums and Exhibitions ROSIZO.


The main project will be realised at the former Lenin Museum, in the very centre of Moscow, near the Red Square. Built in 1892 as the Moscow City Hall, in October 1917 the building became residence of the Committee on Public Security which aimed to prevent the developing revolution. When Soviet power was established, it was first occupied by the Moscow Soviet and then by the Moscow Trade Union Soviet, and since 1936 served as the Lenin Museum, a unique collection of items related to Lenin’s life and activity.

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