Grigory Revzin fired as Russian commissioner of Venice Biennale

Grigory Revzin fired as Russian commissioner of Venice Biennale
Inside the Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2012. Photograph: Nico Saieh (2012)

8 April 2014
Text Nadia Beard

Russia’s Ministry of Culture has dismissed art historian Grigory Revzin from his post as commissioner of the Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, with, allegedly, no explanation for the decision. Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Revzin speculated that the dismissal was linked to a blogpost written on Russian news website Echo of Moscow in early March in which he was critical of Russia’s military presence in Ukraine.

Revzin wrote: “I just got off the phone with [a spokesperson] from the ministry of culture who told me of minister [Vladimir] Medinsky’s personal decision to fire me from me post as curator of the Russian pavilion in the Venice Biennale of Architecture. And I didn’t even write anything about Crimea!”

In early March, Revzin voiced his support for Ukrainians and the legitimacy of the unrest sweeping across the country on Echo of Moscow. He wrote: “One may pretend that all thinking Ukrainians are bandits, fascists, anti-Semites and Russophobes, but this is all utter nonsense, and we know that it’s nonsense. A million people come out on the streets of Ukraine against Yanukovich’s Putinist laws, and who are they? Banderovtsy? Who are you trying to fool? Yourselves?”

According to Revzin, the only explanation offered was that Medinsky was acting “within the realm of the ministry’s powers”. A spokesperson from the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, the non-profit educational project selected to curate the Russian pavilion at Venice this year, told The Calvert Journal that the organisation was maintaining a position of neutrality. He said: “Of course, the decision to fire Revzin won’t affect our decision to participate in the biennale. We will definitely still participate this year, and we cannot comment on the ministry’s decision.”

At the biennale in 2012 the inside walls of the Russian pavilion were covered with QR codes, curated by architect Sergei Tchoban. The Venice Biennale of Architecture was launched in 1980. This year’s festival will be headed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.