The 5th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art, “Immortality”
              Kim West
              “Overcome the limits of immortality,” reads the catchphrase of the 5th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art, curated by Xiaoyu Weng with the overall theme of “Immortality.” It’s a tricky one. I try to untangle it as I visit the vast labyrinth at the fourth floor of the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant, the biennial’s main venue. A long corridor vanishes into the deep, its walls pierced with myriad doorways opening onto myriad rooms, opening onto further rooms, some of which open onto wide vistas of the Ekaterinburg cityscape. Shell-shocked by the explosive discrepancy between the scale and spatial illegibility of the exhibition, and the sparseness of its guiding framework, I stagger into a large, obscure space, where I’m adequately greeted by a nuclear blast, projected across the wall in mesmerizing, decelerated black and white. It’s Bruce Conner’s CROSSROADS (1976). In an adjacent space, Peter Watkins’s dystopian docufiction The War Game (1965) is shown on a small video monitor, driving home the annihilatory point. It appears that technical development is not only a path to human salvation. I’m inclined to think that the exhibition’s catchphrase has dialectical finesse. Immortality, we can agree, is the same as non-death. And to …

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