A biennial of contemporary art is a special kind of exhibitionary work. Although a biennial is usually produced on the basis of an institution, it does not function the same way as a museum: there is no permanent collection; artworks are frequently produced on-site; many are destroyed after being exhibited; others go back to their owners. Even if any works are kept, there are still many challenges: contemporary artists work with many different media, which complicates their long-term storage and potential restoration.
In essence, all that is left after a biennial is a catalogue, which in its turn, cannot claim to represent the full picture, since it is only an editorial selection of materials. At the same time, many things remain behind the scenes, seeming at first glance not obvious materials for keeping. These include exhibition plans, histories of negotiations, photo and video documentation, architectural plans and design solutions, etc. But all of them reflect the process of development of curatorial strategies, artistic approaches, as well as relations with stakeholders at different levels of presenting the project.
The biennial archive is a unique kind of “process archive,” by means of which we try to record the contemporary artistic situation at the moment of its inscription in the latest history of art. In the context of the Ural Industrial Biennial, this work will become a permanent platform for developing approaches to the preservation, systematization, and study of something that tomorrow will become our past.