The Shiryaevo Biennale was organized in 1999 by the artists Nelya and Roman Korzhovs, who at the time managed the Samara Regional Public Charity Foundation «The Center for Contemporary Art», with active contribution from Hanns-Michael Rupprechter and the Shtuttgart Union of Artists (Shtuttgarter Kunstverein e. V.) from Germany as well as a group of artists from Kazakhstan headed by Rustam Khalfin.
Being a purely experimental project at the beginning, these days internationally the Shiryaevo Biennale is the best known contemporary art event in the Samara Region. The main goal of the whole project has been to bring into contact contemporary art practices and traditional down-to-earth lifestyle in the archaic Volga-river village. Throughout the years the Biennale has hosted artists and curators from Russia, Kazakhstan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia, Denmark, USA, the Netherlands, Singapore and Norway.
Photo by Marie-Hélène Dubreuil
One of the important parts of the Biennale structure is the International Creative Laboratory which is held for two weeks as a contemporary art experiment within a traditional Russian village. Of special significance here is the fact that the artists live in the locals' houses, thus they get immersed in a local cultural situation. It helps to create an independent and ideal space for an artistic statement. Every artist has an opportunity «to start from scratch» without any pressure from past experience, existing personal image and art market technologies. Every time the Biennale participants become a collective of like-minded people working on both individual and collaborative projects and using primarily local materials and opportunities. A culminating artwork presentation in the form of the Nomadic Show comes as a result of collective work in the framework of the Laboratory. The Shiryaevo Biennale offers an alternative to the traditional «white cube» art paradigm and provides a strategy for artists to be independent from top-down structure of art.
The central event of the Biennale is the Nomadic Show. It is a symbiosis of two concepts: the European one — «show», and the Asian one — «nomadic». The event takes place for only one day during 7–8 hours and involves the artworks of all the Biennale participants. Every artist or group have special time for a presentation. «The Horde» of spectators moves along the proposed route together with the artists, discovering step by step new art oases and gathering more and more participants on the way. The space for the art presentations includes the whole village and its surroundings: the Volga River, mountains, caves, lakeside, rustic houses, streets, school, community center, quay etc. The route goes from the lowest point upwards: it starts from the quay and ends in the mountains.
Paradoxically, the experimental spirit of the Shiryaevo Biennale became a tradition. A viable formula of «experiment — tradition — experiment» was fashioned through the years. The ideologic basis for the experiment was a research of «cultural stereotypes» on the border of a chosen geopolitical framework — «between Europe and Asia», which in fact is a customary stock phrase and a cliché in politics, culture, economics etc.
The list of the Shiryaevo Biennales:
1999 — «Province: between Europe and Asia»
2001 — «Tangibility: between Europe and Asia»
2003 — «Food: between Europe and Asia»
2005 — «Love: between Europe and Asia»
2007 — «Home: between Europe and Asia»
2009 — «America: between Europe and Asia»
2011 — «Strangers: between Europe and Asia»
2013 — «Screen: between Europe and Asia»
2016 — «CASH»
The Biennale special program, including exhibitions, seminars, workshops and other events, takes place at various venues of Samara. It transmits concepts and ideas created by the Biennale into the city, naturally developing a very special mode of existence of Samara as a city situated on the left riverbank of the Volga, but getting its strength and inspiration from the right one, namely from the Zhiguli Nature Reserve.
In 2016 the Shiryaevo Biennale of Contemporary Art has expanded «between Europe and Asia» framework to the global context and changed the date of the events from an odd-numbered year to an even-numbered year.
List of artists who have participated in the Biennale from 1999 to 2016:
Ulli Berg, Hanns-Michael Rupprechter, Andreas Baer, Jürgen Kierspel, Régis Pinault, Marlène Perronet, Rustam Khalfin, Sergey Maslov, Georgy Tryakin-Bukharov, Zauresh Madanova, Galim Madanov, Nelya Korzhova, Roman Korzhov, Oksana Stogova, Francisco Infante, Nonna Goryunova, Angela Arsinkey, Vanessa Henn, Viktor Vorobyov, Vito Pace, German Vinogradov, «Tutti-Frutti» group, Evgeny Ryabushko, Elena Vorobyova, Yerbossyn Meldibekov, Jonas Valatkevicius, Martin Rogers, Nata Morozova, Vladimir Logutov, Andrey Syailev, Kira Subbotin, Natalia Syzgantseva, Nikita Volchenkov, Anna Orekhova, Ilya Polyakov, Natalia Yelmanova, Sergey Krivchikov, Alexey Zaitsev, Stephan Köperl, Sylvia Winkler, Ellen Rein, Natalia Fomicheva, Alexander Ovchinnikov, Elena Morozova, Peter Haury, Elke Hammelstein, Iris Hellriegel, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Vazgen Rahlavuni-Tadevosyan, Gerd Wiedmaier, Viktoria Lomasko, Diana Machulina, Diego Sarramon, Natalia Samkova, Anna Orekhova, Alexander Korneev, Alexey Kallima, Arpine Tokmajyan, Sergey Balandin, Artyom Ivashkin, Ignat Daniltsev, Vitaly Stadnikov, Oleg Lyuboslavsky, Svetlana Subbotina, Joe Lee, Yulia Zhdanova, Rüdiger Schestag, Yury Albert, Anne Brochet, Bertrand Vallet, Gero Goetze, Marie-Helene Dubreil, Romain Gibert, Mari Kartau, Alexey Kostroma, Gerd Mezger, Sabine Pfisterer, Emmanuel Rodoreda, Krishna Subramania, Mare Tralla, Anfim Hanykov, Matthias Holland-Moritz, Alexander Shikowski, Jochen Schlöder, «Tsvetophor» group, «Escape» program, Georg Zaiss, Anna Korzhova, Andrey Kuzkin, Emilie Pischedda and Valentin Souquet, Haim Sokol, Manfred Unterweger, Wolfgang Spaeth, Greta Weibull and Klas Eriksson, Ingela Ihrman, Kalle Brolin and Kristina Müntzing, Elena Dendiberya and Anatoly Gaiduk, Janno Bergmann, Andrus Joonas, Martina Geiger-Gerlach, Kathrin Zohn, Barbara Karsch-Chaïeb, Rosa Rücker, Ivan Lungin, Pia Maria Martin, Susanna Messerschmidt, Astrid Nylander, Calle Holck, Johanna Karlin, Swetlana Heger, Katrin Hornek, Martial Verdier, Gabriel Feracci, Martin Lewden, Sybille Neeve, Ciro Vitale, Alexander Zaitsev, Mikhail Lezin, Ivanhoe, Vladimir Arkhipov, Serious Collision Investigation Unit Coalition (Felix Gmelin, Alan Armstrong, Joakim Forsgren, Mikael Goralski, Amanda Hårsmar, Ronak Moshtaghi, Kjersti Austdal), Paulo Paes, Radesign group (Anton Rakov, Yulia Ratieva), Darya Emelyanova, Dmitry Kadyntsev, GKP group (Vitaly Cherepanov, Anna Mineeva), Dominika Skutnik, Marek Frankowski, Antybody Corporation (Adam Rose, April Pollard), Eryka Dellenbach, Merzedes Sturm-Lie, André Talborn, Alexey Trubetskov, Olga Kiselyova, Alisa Nikolaeva, Nicolas Courgeon, S’ilTePlait group (Bernard Touzet, Théophile Péju, Pierre-Loup Pivoin, Raphaël Saillard), Club Fortuna (Julia Rublov, Sarah Sternat, Kurdwin Ayub, Xenia Lesnievski, Nana Mandl), Maarten Heijkamp, Thomas C. Chung, U/n Multitude group (Nikita Spiridonov, Elena Zubtsova, Ilya Fomin), Yunrubin group (Joanne Pang Rui Yun, Jonas Rubin), Mariya Kruchkova, Ilya Samorukov.