5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, “More Light”
              Anna Tolstova
              At first glance, “More Light”—the title of the 5th Moscow Biennale’s main project curated by Catherine de Zegher—seems to describe the exhibition entirely. The broad and luminous space of the Manege Central Exhibition Hall is full of weightless and fragile works flowing through the space like draperies, many of which are, in fact, fabrics. However, each work in the exhibition calls for second glance or, better, gaze. A seemingly endless swath of wallpaper with a big, densely ornamented butterfly pattern looks totally decorative until one comes closer and realizes that the intricate patterns in the butterflies’ wings are composed of prison scenes with tortured inmates. The Time of Butterflies (2011) by Parastou Forouhar refers to the death of her parents, oppositional Iranian politicians murdered in Tehran fifteen years ago: the artist’s late mother’s name was Parvaneh, which means butterfly in Persian. “It is about the simultaneity of beauty and violence and the ambivalence of their coexistence,” she explains in an artist’s statement. And that comes to sound like a motto for “More Light” at the Manege, a sort of Kunsthalle, whose history is full of ambivalent moments and the wracked tension between art and politics. Until this year, the Moscow Biennale …

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