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Russia’s National Center of Contemporary Art is Folded into ROSIZO

Little more than a week after Russia’s National Center for Contemporary Art announced the winners of its Innovation Prize—notably, without its main award, after the category was stripped in the wake of the organizer’s decision to ban Pyotr Pavlensky from consideration—minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky announced today that the NCCA will now be integrated into the structure of the State Museum and Exhibition Center, ROSIZO, as TASS reports. As part of the changes, NCCA director Mikhail Mindlin will be relieved of his duties, though Medinsky adds, “We are grateful for his contributions to the development of the Center for Contemporary Art. He has had several interesting proposals, and I think we will soon see Mindlin in an interesting new role.” Medinsky adds that no other employees of the NCCA would lose their jobs but rather “will be given new objectives.”

The change means that programs like the Innovation Award, the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and the Ural Industrial Biennial (organized by the NCCA’s Ekaterinburg outpost) will now be responsibilities that fall to ROSIZO, under the direction of Sergey Perov. Founded in 1959, ROSIZO has, historically, primarily concerned itself with distributing art objects throughout the museum network of the USSR, organizing international traveling exhibitions in partnership with institutions abroad, and handling framing and restoration needs.

The reshuffle has sparked a general outcry from the Russia’s art scene. Artist Alexander Ponomarev told online news portal Artguide that the decision did not make any sense to him. “ROSIZO has always been an organization whose structure was designed for facilitating international exhibitions, while the NCCA is an organization that seeks to gather together the various trends in art and to promote them in our social and cultural space.”

State Russian Museum curator Olesya Turkin said, “I'm not at all happy about the prospect of this merger. For NCCA, what was always extremely important was its independent, ‘separate’ status. ROSIZO is not focused on contemporary art, it deals mainly with organizing exhibitions, which is also important, but contemporary art is a field with its own vocabulary, strategies and characteristics, which, in the wake of this merger, are likely to be lost.”

The NCCA was founded in 1992, but was not up and running until 1994. It was the first institution in the country to exhibit contemporary art on a regular basis. It currently maintains outposts in Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaliningrad, Vladikazkaz, and Tomsk.