Artmossphere Dispatch 4 : The Opening

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This week BSA is in Moscow with you and Urban Nation for Artmossphere 2016, the 2nd Street Art Biennale, a group exposition introducing 26 Russian and 42 foreign artists who were shaped by street art in some way. Also present are international curators, museums and galleries who have significantly intersected with urban art in recent years.

Artmossphere co-founder and curator Sabina Chagina pulled off a second edition of this biennale last night in Moscow – not an easy feat. But with 11 curators and nearly 70 artists from here and around the world, the multi-discipline show unveiled on time and was well attended – with a steady stream of curious fans coming through the space today as well.

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Sick Boy’s installation found a number of kids to climb the ladder and take the slide (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With the air of an art fair (minus the sales associates and plus the soaring arched windows) and work often so far removed from street practice that you may refer to it simply as Urban Contemporary, there is a palpable enthusiasm and curiosity here about what this “movement” might be bringing.

Most if not all of the international artists have intersected with illegal Street Art in cities around the world and this work has often evolved from the practice. Perhaps beneath the surface or just above it, there is a certain defiance and a critique of social, economic, political issues and systems.

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A child exits the Sick Boy “The Rewards System” installation. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Elsewhere the presentation is primarily aesthetic, very muted or so similar to previous mid-20th-century art schools as to appear separate from what one may recognize as the urban art of the last two decades. Similarly, the inclusion of graffiti is only occasional and is presented as part of the greater whole today rather than its genesis role.

Adding together a press conference, a Moscow superstar DJ, virtual reality headsets, interactive displays (otherwise known as selfie-with-art opportunities), major private business sponsors, cultural ministers, government grants, and official accreditation, this is a professional and polished presentation of a global culture that has filtered through the lense of the street.

Here are a few select shots to give you an idea of the feeling during the opening of Artmossphere 2.

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Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli performed Brad’s huckster mobile art-selling installation on the floor of the bienalle, where Brad used his laser-like sales skills to sell his own work. Mr. Patrelli is known for his unannounced appearances at Moscow openings wearing his “Overcoat Gallery”. This was reportedly his 461st such appearance since 1992 and his flashing overcoat contained original Brad Downey artworks for your perusal.

If you missed those pieces, Brad was also drawing portraits of guests with a thin white posca marker on clear plastic at the afterparty. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Canadian-via-Brooklyn Li-Hill reflecting on his newest painting/installation. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jaz (Franco Fasoli) completed this emerging subterranean power horse and rider in a Moscow studio days before the opening. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Galo stood among his characters in his paint splashed installation. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Minneapolis based Hot Tea’s whack-a-mole inspired interactive piece drew many wiley participants popping up and down within it. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Katie & Jesse created this batik fabric here in Moscow and stretched it on a frame, illuminated from within. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Steve Harrington chats with the contingent from Museum of Street Art who took the train from their city of Saint Petersburg to see how Artmossphere interpreted the idea of ‘invisible walls’. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artmossphere curators at the press conference. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sepe, Denis Leo Hegic and M-City at the afterparty. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Coincidentally, or not, fireworks filled the night sky over Red Square as artists and curators and organizers all headed to the afterparty at a club a few blocks away. Um, completely magical. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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