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The Art Prospect Festival showcases innovative art projects that activate public space and promotes international collaboration and community engagement. Art Prospect invites artists from around the world to transform familiar urban landscapes with temporary, site-specific, and participatory art works and performances addressing local concerns, histories, and culture. An annual event held in St. Petersburg, Russia since 2012, the Festival has also taken place in Baku, Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, Georgia; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Kyiv, Ukraine, and online. Due to Russia’s current full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Festival was cancelled in 2022. It will take place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2023.
The 8th Art Prospect Festival: Forms of Unity included over 20 interventions, installations, performances, and Augmented Reality installations at the House of Culture Creative Cluster in St. Petersburg and 20 public art works by international artists at contemporary art centers around the world. For the Festival opening in St. Petersburg, thirty artists and collectives from Finland, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States created art works that reflected on forms of unity, both physical and emotional, and responded to the unique history and architecture of the Gaza Palace of Culture and Kirovsky Region.
The 7th Art Prospect Festival: Treasure Hunt was a hybrid online/onsite public art festival featuring interventions and Augmented Reality works by more than 50 artists from 13 countries including Annie Albagi, San Francisco, CA; Sara Burrell, Melbourne, Australia; Pasha Cas, Almaty, Kazakhstan; Fedor Dubrovin, Chuvash Republic, Russia; Andy Graydon, Minneapolis, MN; Nadya Sayapina, Minsk, Belarus; Alexander Shishkin Hokusai, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Ed Woodham, Brooklyn, NY, among others. The Festival responded to how the COVID-19 pandemic had changed our world and aspired to find new ways to engage public spaces and local communities with contemporary art.
The theme of the 6th annual Art Prospect Public Art Festival was Food for Thought. Over 40 artists and artist collectives from Russia, the US, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Poland presented installations, objects, and interactive media projects focused on food. Workshops, guided tours, and performances were open to the public. The works created for the festival were performed or displayed throughout the Posadsky Municipal District, Petrograd Side.
During 4 Days on the Road in Kyiv, audiences had an opportunity to participate in 12 projects by artists from different cities of Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Moldova.
The Art Prospect Festival in Tbilisi Memory Threads: Museum and Neighborhood explored the relationship between the Silk Museum and its surroundings, with its special history and layers.
The Neighborhood festival in Bishkek explored a community courtyard adjacent to city’s main street, Chyngyz Aitmatov Avenue, with its subtle combination of relationships, compromises and contradictions. The festival was a practical experiment to rethink public spaces considering the influence of neoliberal policies.
In 2017, the Art Prospect Festival took place for the first time outside Russia. Presented in collaboration with the Kyrgyz arts organization ArtEast, the International Public Art Festival Art Prospect – Bishkek: Green Zones New Breath opened on September 22 at the Gareev Botanical Garden. Artists from Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, USA, and Kyrgyzstan presented twenty site specific art works. The Botanical Garden, founded almost a century ago, grows the largest range of species in Central Asia. It is a unique research facility and a precious public space. After the break-up of the USSR, it suffered the fate of many state institutions: lack of finance, the pressures of the new free-market economy and an attempt at “re-profiling”. The artists created site-specific works that used art, design, and architecture to re-imagine and invigorate the Botanical Garden and to bring attention to the need for the preservation of public green spaces in the city. The festival was one of the initiatives supporting the campaign for the Botanical Garden as an example of the defense of public spaces in Bishkek.
Artists in Baku created new work for the festival of public art Urban Olum – Rethink, Redo, Revive organized by Pillə platform in collaboration with CEC ArtsLink. Urban Olum encouraged local residents to take a more active role in the transformation of the city. Seven artists from Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Belarus created public art works that engaged and responded to the needs and customs of local residents in the outlying district of Bayil.
In 2016, with Dialogue as its theme, the festival took place in St. Petersburg’s Admiralteysky district. In addition to being historically rich, the district stands out for its social diversity: communities ranging from the elderly, students, and immigrants to wealthier families. Did these people know and interact with each other? How did their surroundings affect their relations with one another? These were the questions addressed by artists from Russia, the USA, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, and Finland as they created interdisciplinary works.
In Art Prospect 2015’s edition art groups and artists practiced participatory art through ‘Games’. What historical role do associations of artists in Russia and abroad play? How does contemporary art relate to the concept of the ‘collective’? And how can local communities with no connection to the world of art be involved in the process of creating a work of art? The festival set out to find points of contact between the collective and the artistic using play to rethink social and aesthetic interactions.
The 2014 iteration of Art Prospect curated by US artist and curator Kendal Henry, explored how artists address global environmental issues through public participation and social engagement. The festival organizers sought to increase awareness and inspire action through work that deals with climate change, conservation, energy, resources, biodiversity as well as cultural diversity, language, and population. Working in cooperation with the Posadsky Municipal District administration on the Petrogradsky Region of St. Petersburg, Art Prospect invited local residents to engage with the numerous participatory artworks that were presented in the neighborhood. The festival organizers brought together more than 50 artists from Australia, US, Finland, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia.
The second Art Prospect showcased the original works of fifteen artists and art collectives from Russia, the Netherlands and the United States responding to the theme The Artist as Urban Gardener. Using various art forms, including collage, sculpture, video, and performance, the artists transformed Liteiny Prospect into an interactive space for creative dialogue with residents about the urban environment. The Festival’s goal was to mobilize local artists, organizations, and residents to participate in the shaping of their public space, to think creatively about making the urban environment greener and environmentally sustainable, and to consider the relationship between what we consume and how it is created.
The first Art Prospect Festival brought together eighteen Russian and US artists and arts collectives who shared a commitment to bringing art into nontraditional venues and reaching a broad audience. Nine US artists, including Sheryl Oring, Paul Notzold, and Ed Woodham, created and installed work for the Festival. Among the many exciting works shown were the sensational wheat paste collage “Miss Bennet” by US artist Swoon and video projections by Minneapolis-based artist Andrea Steudel. The Festival also featured projects by ten leading artists from St. Petersburg and Moscow, including site-specific installations by Petr Belyi and Ilya Gaponov, performances by Mylo (“Soap”) and the theater ensemble “Light People,” and an interactive board game by Olga Zhitlina.