A guide to the new east


Kiev biennale to go ahead despite withdrawal of venue, curators say

Chiharu Shiota’s, After the Dream, from Kiev biennale 2012

The curators of The School of Kiev, the Kiev contemporary art biennale, have announced plans to go ahead with the event despite the withdrawal of its venue Mystetskyi Arsenal. The biennale, which was postponed from last February due to the Maidan protests, was expected not to go ahead, after Mystetskyi Arsenal cited financial problems and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine among its reasons to withdraw.

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Ex-Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson offered job by Russian military TV channel

Controversial British television presenter Jeremy Clarkson has been offered a job by Russian TV network Zvezda to host a Russian equivalent of Top Gear. The network, owned by Russia’s Ministry of Defence, approached the disgraced Top Gear presenter after he was fired by the BBC last week for assaulting a producer on his programme.

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Russian court drops charges against founder of teen LGBT charity Children 404

Leading LGBT activist Elena Klimova has been acquitted of charges brought against her for breaking the “gay propaganda” law. Today, a court in Nizhny Tagil, Sverdlovsk, upheld an appeal against the court’s decision to fine Klimova, the founder of Children 404, a charity that offers LGBT teenagers in Russia information, advice and a closed forum to share their experiences.  

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CNN to resume broadcasting in Russia after receiving broadcast license

CNN International will return to broadcasting in Russia after receiving a broadcast licence, media watchdog Roskomandzor has confirmed. The American cable and satellite TV giant ceased broadcasting in Russia at the end of last year, allegedly in response to a change in Russia’s advertising law imposing a ban on the broadcast of adverts on paid TV channels. The controversial law, which was to come into effect from 1 January 2015, was amended at the end of January, and now allows cable channels which broadcast 75% Russian content to air adverts.

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Yarat Contempoary Art Centre opens first permanent space in Baku

Shirin Neshat, still from Soliloquy (1999)

Azeri contemporary art organisation Yarat has opened its first permanent space in Baku. The new centre, dedicated to regional contemporary art and art education, is housed in a converted former Soviet-era naval headquarters overlooking the Caspian Sea.  

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Novosibirsk prepares for rally defending creativity as scandal over Wagner opera intensifies

From the performance of Tannhäuser

Residents of Novosibirsk informed local authorities yesterday of a rally in defence of creative freedom scheduled for 5 April in Novosibirsk’s Lenin Square. The move comes amid an ongoing investigation into a controversial production of Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser staged at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. The production, which features a number of provocative biblical scenes, was slammed by a senior Russian Orthodox cleric in Novosibirsk as “humiliating believers’ feelings and the Orthodox Church”.

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Moscow-based art foundation V-A-C to open new space in Venice

Venice’s historic Palazzo delle Zattere will soon be transformed into an exhibition space for Russian contemporary art foundation V-A-C. Announced last week, the new space is set to open its doors during the opening of the 56th Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art in May this year. Its first exhibition project, to open in 2016 to coincide with the Venice Architecture Biennale, will exhibit work from Katerina Chuchalina.

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Two major Russian broadcasters launch new production company

Two major Russian broadcasting organisations have joined forces to launch a new content production company, Prime Time. The All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and National Media Group, both controlled by Yury Kovalchuk, a businessman and ally of Vladmir Putin, each hold a 40% stake in the new company. The remaining 20% is held by the new general director of Prime Time, Vyacheslav Murugov, who spent 10 years working at independent Russian broadcaster CTC Media before leaving to head the new company. 

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Culture ministry to launch inquiry into Novosibirsk theatre after controversial Wagner production

Russia’s Ministry of Culture is to launch an inquiry into a controversial production of Wagner's opera Tannhäuser performed at Novosibirsk’s Opera and Ballet theatre. The ministry has asked the theatre to change elements of the show and issue an apology to anyone offended. Last month, the theatre came under a hail of criticism after a senior Russian Orthodox cleric in Novosibirsk lodged a complaint with the regional government accusing the performance of “humiliating believers’ feelings and the Orthodox Church” and “inciting religious hatred”. 

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Venice biennale for contemporary art announces list of participating artists

Bang, Ai Weiwei at the German pavilion during the 55th La Biennale of Venice, 2013

Five artists from Georgia, Ukraine, Romania and Russia are among the participants for the Venice biennale of contemporary art opening later this year. Announced last week, the list of participants includes leading photographer and multimedia artist Olga Chernysheva and Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya (known under the pseudonym Gluklya), founder of artists’ collective The Factory of Found Clothes, who will represent Russia. Artist and curator Mykola Ridnyi from Ukraine; sculptor and installation artist Thea Djordjadze from Georgia; and painter Victor Man from Romania are also set to have their work showcased.

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