The Siberian city of Omsk opened its first public art festival on Wednesday, with performances, interactive installations, street theatre and concerts in locations across the city. The debut festival, Space of Plurality, is a collaborative project between American artist Robin Lasser and Omsk-based painter and curator Vasiliy Melnichenko, and will feature over 30 art projects from local artists exploring the plurality of expression and borderlands.
In an interview with The Calvert Journal, Lasser said: “Vasiliy and I decided to work on border issues together, which is especially relevant since I am an American and he is a Russian and we’ve experienced rocky periods in the relationship between our two countries.”
One of the installations will see Lasser and Melnichenko collaborate on a project comprising two ten-feet tall curvilinear walls of thin plastic film in the centre of the city’s fortress. Lasser said she hoped festival-goers would “get a sense of what it is to walk between borders, to highlight their own experience of border issues”. She added: “It will become a kind of people wall, and an expression of what borders mean.”
Despite the decline in political relations between Russia and the US in recent months, Lasser is hopeful about the power of art to assuage political tensions. She said: “As an artist and a sometimes curator, I feel that culture can play a huge part in mending tense political relations between cultures. If we share each other’s stories and get to know each other through waging art rather than waging war, I think that connections can run very deep.”