Moscow International Youth Biennale 1989. Theme: The Urbearable Lightness of Being

In the second half of the 1980s, Russian intelligentsia was in a state of euphoria. The censorship of press was loosened. The Fine Art market emerged and the ban on Western culture was abolished. The Central House of Artist hosted exhibitions of Jannis Kounellis, Francis Bacon, Robert Rauschenberg, and Guenther Uecker.
In 1988, Achille Bonito Oliva, an Italian art critic, curator and theorist came to Moscow to find a venue for his exhibition which, consequently, was never held. However, his visit left a mark on Soviet art. Much change and outside inf luence began to populate the coun- try. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves...
During Oliva’s visit, Leonid Bazhanov, an art historian, contemporary art specialist and the founder of the creative association “The Hermitage” accompanied him as if he were his shadow. Viktor Misiano, a curator, research fellow, head of the Department of Modern Western Art at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, correspondent of the international art magazine Contemporanea and a member of the Flash Art magazine editorial team was invited to interpret at a summit meeting with the Italian visitor. During the meeting, Achille Oliva suggested looking more closely at young Soviet artists’ work and giving them room for artistic expression and exploration. Bazhanov cherished the idea of starting a young art- ists biennale and began echoing Oliva’s words at whatever get-together in the capital he attended. Pavel Vladievich Khoroshilov, a supporter of contemporary art, General Director of the All-Union Artistic Production Association named after Ye.V. Vuchetich (Exhibi- tions and Conservation Department of the Collection of the USSR Ministry of Culture) and later appointed director of both the Foreign Trade Company of the Soviet Union of Artists titled “Soyuzkhudozhexport” and the Union-Gallery, was among those enthused by Bazhanov’s ideas. He became obsessed with the idea of an international exhibition of young art- ists and decided that one should be held in the Manezh Exhibition Hall. There was also support of the idea from Egor Yakovlev, the chief editor of one of the most popular and respected newspa- pers, Moscow News (Moskovskie Novosti). He commissioned an article on the role of young artists in Soviet contemporary culture. All things were immediately approved by the powers that be and the first Soviet biennale for young artists was dated to be held the following year in June.

However, it was impossible to obtain a permission to hold it in Manezh. Instead, the Moscow House of Artist on Kuznetsky Most was chosen as a venue. Victor Misiano was invited as a curator. Pavel Vladievich Khoroshilov, who from the very beginning was to be the commissioner of the show, resigned from an executive position in the USSR Ministry of Culture. For this reason Lyuba Shaks took on the role of commissioner. At that time she was responsible for a club at the Moscow News newspaper office. The editorial team of the newspaper was actively involved in the media coverage of and fundraising for the show.

Main Project artists: Vadim Zakharov, Arsen Savadov and Georgy Senchenko, Perejaume, Konstantin Zvezdochetov, Timur Novikov, Enzo Cucchi, Andrey Roiter, Rob Scholte, Mark Tansey, Alexey Shulgin, Annette Lemieux, Gleb and Igor Aleynikov, The Peppers, Alfredo Pirri, Ronald Jones, Ilya Piganov, Gunther Forg, Birgit Jurgenssen, Maria Serebryakova, Barbara Bloom, Anatoly Zhuravlev, Koka Ramishvili, Miroslaw Balka, the Inspection “Medical Hermeneutics” group (Sergei Anufriev, Yuri Leiderman, Pavel Pepperstein, Vladimir Felorov), IRWIN. 

DI # 3-2018
May 13, 2018