Sunday, 16 October 2011

festivals and more festivals

Following cities like Barcelona, Bilbao and Dublin, Perm (in the Urals) is trying to sell itself as a City of Culture.  This has even involved going to Brussels back in May to propose that that the European City of Culture title should be formally extended this far East.  However,  local opinion is clearly a little dubious about the motives of those in power. What everyone knows is that a Muscovite gallery owner, Marat Guelman has been invited in by the regional senator Sergei Gordeyev - or maybe by a regional governor, Oleg Chirkunov - and this can easily be read as a sign that the Moscow elite are taking over.

And, as usual, there are complicated gaps between appearances and actualities. I have been invited here to talk at one of the masses of festivals Perm now organises, in this case bringing together a craftt/household items fair with an architectural and interior design competition and festival (like a miniaturised Ideal Home Exhibition). Quite how these may improve the cultural or economic generation of the region is a little unclear. But there is plenty of energy and many good and creative conversations.

But in terms of other - more solid and long-term - projects, much is started and not completed, There has also been an international design competition for the Perm contemporary art gallery - marketed as PermMuseumXXI - a winner chosen, but then nothing; although now some plans for a much simpler glass extension. There are also proposals floating around for the Opera House (which nobody I talked to knew anything about) and last year some proposals for new wooden houses. So nobody really believes anything will happen.

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