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Swiss Focus at the 6th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art

The 6th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art

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«Swiss Focus» of the 6th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art includes «Performing Social Rituals», a series of performances and installations by Swiss artists, the publication of the Russian edition of the book «Time for Cultural Mediation» by Carmen Moersch, and an educational program for museum professionals dealing with cultural meditation.

The Swiss artists Alan Alpenfelt, Hannah Weinberger, Olivia Wiederkehr, Jerome Leuba, and Florence Jung create or adapt projects especially for the public program of the Biennial. They will present different strategies of interaction with the urban environment, among them social sculpture, documentary theatre, and sound intervention into public spaces.

On top of that, the Biennial team plans to publish Russian version of the book “Time For Cultural Mediation” by a culture expert Carmen Moersch based on her research of the cultural meditation practices of the audience in European museums. The research was supported by Pro Helvetia in cooperation with the University of Arts in Zürich in 2009-2012. The publication is a joint effort in cooperation with the Garage Museum of the contemporary art. The book gets released in online format only in early 2022. An education program designed for Russian museum workers sets the stage for the book launch.

The public program begins on September 16 and closes on December 5, 2021.

Curators of the “Swiss Focus”: Yulia Fisch, Dmitrii Bezouglov

On photo: Olivia Wiederkehr, yes!yes!yes!no!no!, photo:  Rita Markova, Yeakaterinbourg, 2021 

The Performance Program “Performing Social Rituals”

September, 16 — December, 5, 2021

The artists — Alan Alpenfelt, Florence Jung, Hannah Weinberger, Olivia Wiederkehr, and Jerome Leubadraw — draw inspiration from our daily routine, i.e., rituals that we go through every day and that we desperately lacked during the lockdown. Although the artists work with different mediums, their interests in social choreography and scenarios coincide.

Often, the performances they prepare have no clear beginning and ending. The events become a part of the dynamic social space. They make viewers and participants look at everyday life more attentively and question themselves on the nature of their social rituals and what violates them.

The artists have specially created or adapted their previous projects for the 6th Ural Industrial Biennial. They introduce various strategies of interaction with the urban environment. Among them are social sculpture, documentary theatre, sound intervention in public spaces.

How social is “social distance”? How has the pandemic contracted or expanded the personal space of each of us? Are habitual actions of citizens universal? Or do they depend on specific restrictions imposed by the healthcare system in each country? These are some of the issues that fascinate artists, and we want to make you interested as well.

Artists and their projects:

Hannah Weinberger

Performative installation “Afterword”, 2021
Dates: September 16 – December 5

Hannah Weinberger will present a new performative installation from the “Afterwords” series, created specially for the space of the former Salut cinema in Yekaterinburg. Watching a movie in a cinema is a collective social ritual that has been hit by the pandemic. By addressing it, Hannah creates a sound situation of endless expectation, suspense without catharsis.

Hannah uses foremost sound as an instrument of the social communication and perception of the space. How could sound navigate our social choreography?
How can we orchestrate the feeling of belonging and ownership being on a distance?
Hanna will play with architecture and the space of the cinema designing the sound environment, which affects the one one moves and perceives it.

Hannah Weinberger lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. Her works have been exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art (Berlin), the Kunsthalle in Basel, the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), and the Art Basel international fair. She is the winner of the Swiss Art Award 2019, Swiss Emerging Artist Prize 2018.

Florence Jung

Project «Jung76», 2020
Dates: October 1-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24 

“If you consider yourself doing well, write to info@newoffice.fr”. This ad appeared in the Yekaterinburg streets and was published on the Internet so that Florence Jung could find participants for her new project. What does “doing well” exactly means? Florence turns to new scenarios and social rituals to find recipes for “doing well.” They vary greatly: from mindfulness meditations and wishing marathons to biohacking and transhumanism. Modern people take this responsibility for themselves.

People who succeed in everything and who are always doing well are among us. What separates us? How to get into this closed community? What distinguishes those who are doing well from those who are not? Florence Jung asks the visitors and participants of the Performing social rituals program these and other curious questions.

Florence Jung is an anonymous artist who lives and works in Paris and Biel. Florence Jung has no documentation of her works, and her website features only news articles. She is interested in forms of social scripts and contracts. Her work has been shown at the Kunsthalle, the Helmhaus Museum (Zurich), the Palais de Tokyo (Paris). Jung was awarded the Swiss Performance Prize and the Swiss Art Award in 2013; and the Georg and Josi Guggenheim Prize in 2017.

Jerome Leuba

Battlefield #151, 2021
Dates: September, 16, October, 1-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23 

Jerome Leuba designs live social sculptures, which either embodied into the social fabric or disrupt the way one navigates daily life. Artist thematise usually social relations and question political and social structures. For the Biennial, the artist creates a new work from the series “Battlefield”. His performative actions, which at first glance are imperceptible, reveal areas of tension. Performers present clear routine actions in accordance with the situation, but in fact break out of it. “Social sculptures” scattered throughout the space of the former cinema Salut and beyond, highlight the unspoken rules that society obeys.

Jerome Leuba lives and works in Geneva. His works have been exhibited at the MAMCO Museum, the Kunsthalle in Basel, the Museum of Photography in Winterthur, and other art institutions.

Olivia Wiederkehr

Performance “Yes! No! Yes! No!” 
Dates: October, 1-3

Artist-talk: September, 19, 15:30 – 17:30, Registration

In each project, Olivia is fundamentally working with the history of the place and involving the urban communities. Especially for the Biennial, Olivia creates the performance “Yes! No! Yes! No! ”, combining complex choreographic movements and deceptively stingy“ yes ”and“ no ”expressions. Affirmation and denial, whether spoken or written, are performative. “Yes” opens doors and new spaces, “no” denotes boundaries and sets rules. Olivia, together with the participants of the performance, will address the audience and passers-by with judgments and statements that can be denied or agreed. Thus, the artist seeks to understand in which case a person discovers the boundaries of inner freedom, and in which case he/she encounters social frames.

Olivia Wiederkehr lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. Her works have been exhibited in Schadhalle (Zurich), Kunsthalle in Baden, Klingental exhibition space, and Yellow Brick gallery in Athens.

Alan Alpenfelt

Secret  Sound Stories. Fear of touch. 2021
Dates: October, 1-3, 9-10, 16-17

Artist-talk: September, 19:30 – 21:30, Registration

For the Ural Biennial, Alan Alpenfelt is preparing a new script as part of the ongoing Secret Sound Stories project. The project is dedicated to “hope and fear” – emotions faced by thousands of people around the world, trapped in social distancing and self-isolation. Alan will create a multi-hour sound performance that changes depending on the behaviour of the audience. His method is based on working with in-depth and biographical interviews, side by side with the participants in the performance, for whom Alan will give a master class on writing a documentary script. And for the viewer, this is a one-on-one theatre experience with an actor, when the drama is based on a personal story that unfolds in real time.

Alan Alpenfelt (ZWEETS), theater director and music producer, works with performative documentary theater. Alan runs the VXX ZWEETS theater company and lives and works in Chiasso, Switzerland. His production of Words and Music by Samuel Beckett was presented at the prestigious 2016 Swiss Theater Meetings festival.

The program may be subject to change

Online Presentation of the Russian Edition «Time for Cultural Mediation»

Open Date

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A series of online seminars: Time for Cultural Mediation?

3 November – 1 December 2021

The Schedule

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and the Ural Biennial united their efforts under the support of Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council in order to create an educational program and to publish the Russian edition of Carmen Moersch’s Time For Cultural Mediation.

Upon preparing this publication it is important to sustain the dialogic format and to engage professional community into the discussion of mediation in culture: the way it is perceived within Russian context over almost a decade since the original publication. In order to do that the Ural Biennial and the Garage launch a series of webinars with the participation of Swiss and Russian experts. The webinars will be held in fall 2021, available to a wide museum community. The final seminar with the participation of the author, Carmen Moersch, will be held in February 2022 at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.

Time For Cultural Mediation is a seminal book published by ZHdK in 2012. It was the result of the Art and Audiences research program (2009–12) commissioned by Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council. This study has served an impulse for the development of mediation in Switzerland, encouraged the knowledge exchange and highlighted the importance of the introduction of this approach in the cultural institutions. The publication was one of the first complex efforts to define mediation in culture and summarize the existing practices of work with the audience.

Time For Cultural Mediation is a resource book for practitioners in many European countries. It is also fundamental in training mediators of the two Russian institutions — The Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art and The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, who were among the first ones in Russia to engage in mediation in 2015. The Russian adaptation is long-demanded by the growing Russian professional community — those who already practice mediation and those who still plan to adopt it. 

Curators: Alina Belishkina, Daria Malikova, Marina Romanova



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