With 50 museums, 15 theatres and 20 institutions of higher education Yekaterinburg is sure to have busy cultural life. Recently it has attracted many contemporary artists as the first Ural Biennale of Contemporary Art is now open in the city until middle October.
The exhibitions are set in 6 factories of Yekaterinburg. The most interesting and worth visiting is in Urlamsh - the Ural heavy Machine Building Plant. You can get there by metro. The one and only metro line in Yekaterinburg goes directly to the northern district of Uralmsh. Uralmsh is a large industrial and residential area, back in the 90s it was known as the criminal capital of Russia. It is still a dare to walk in Uralmash after midnight but it's OK during a day. Take my word as I lived in Uralmash for 5 years.
Normally it's impossible to get to the territory of the huge Uralmash factory unless you work there. Thanks to the art you have a unique opportunity to see this top secret place. Getting inside can be quite adventurous. The whole process of entering the factory is a good example of a never-dying Russian bureaucracy. It can be annoying especially if you've already had difficulties getting a visa. But if you have sense of humour the experience is remarkable.
First of all, you have to show your passport everywhere. Then you will be told not to take any photos as if it's not a contemporary exhibition but a KGB office. At the entrance to one of the buildings our group of visitors was greeted by a typically Soviet big shrewish woman in grey uniform with a stern face and a coquettish purple lipsticked mouth. She was a factory security guard and a perfect prototype of a Russian woman of the Cold War era. You know the one that was later fortunately replaced by a new image of slender tennis players. I was tempted to take a picture of that woman but was afraid that she might easily throw me away to the factory shaft for this. The woman said that she wouldn't let us in because we had to have the detailed plan of our excursion in the factory with the copies of our passports, signatures of some important people and probably sealed by Putin at that. We didn't have all those papers. To my reply that we came not to spy but to see the art exhibit she answered in triumph - Bureaucracy is not yet cancelled in Russia! I now have no doubts that it will never be cancelled in Uralmash factory No matter how hard our president is trying to eliminate red tape in the country he simply won't be able to get inside because he hasn't got a detailed plan of his visit.
Anyway, we did get inside after we wrote our full names on a sheet of paper for our lovely lady-guard and promised her not to take any pictures there. Well, I came to see contemporary art so I took a few...
Ural Biennale of Contemporary Art takes place in September-October every second year. The next one is in 2014
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