Manifesta and Crimean Incursion Both Losing Russian Art World Support

The calls to boycott Manifesta 10 (June 28–October 31 at St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum) over Russia’s anti-gay laws and military aggression in the Crimean region of the Ukraine are finally gaining some traction. Although the biennial’s directors recently reaffirmed that the exhibition will take place as planned, the show must go on without locally-based artist collective Chto Delat, who have announced their withdrawal.

A statement posted on the group’s Facebook page criticized the Hermitage and Manifesta curator Kasper Koenig as incapable “of rising to the challenge of a dramatically evolving political situation.” The collective expressed its belief that Russian artists should endeavor “to turn every cultural project into a manifestation of dissent against the Russian government’s policy of violence, repressions, and lies.”

Support for the country’s military action in Ukraine is also wavering. The director of the Bolshoi Drama Theater, one of the 150 Russian cultural leaders listed as signatories on the endorsement of President Vladimir Putin’s Crimean incursion, has gone on record denying that he ever signed such a statement.

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