Although the economic slump, and other issues, saw some projects pulled, the programme still features hundreds of works by high-profile artists all over the city.
The Biennale's main project is entitled "Against Exclusion", which, organisers say, is meant to stress its "open and international character". This unique project has brought a massive collection of contemporary art from regions such as Central Asia, Oceania, New Zealand and Africa, to be displayed in Russia for the first time, complementing works originating in the traditional art capitals of Europe or North America.
Curators said they chose not to propose any underlying theme for the participating works, preferring to focus on free artistic expression instead. Among those artists whose works will be exhibited at the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, the event's main venue this year, will be India's Anish Kapoor, Australia's Erwin Wurm, Switzerland's Roman Singer and Brazil-born, US-based Vik Muniz.
Another big name in town is Spencer Tunick, famous for his photos of huge groups of naked people in public places. But his Moscow show is rather different - gone are the crowd scenes, as intimate portraits of 17 ordinary Muscovites take centre stage. Only 10 of these images, which have so far been shrouded in secrecy by the artist, are planned to be included in the main project.
Several dozen other exhibitions are to take place as part of the month-long Biennale's "parallel programme" and special projects.
One of the highlights of the parallel programme is to be the exhibition "Traktoristy" ("Tractor Drivers") at KROKIN gallery, which is intended to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the so called "Bulldozer Exhibition". Back in 1974, an unofficial exhibition by Soviet non-conformist artists on a vacant lot in Belyayevo forest near Moscow was forcefully broken up by a large police force, including bulldozers and water cannons, seeing it dubbed the Bulldozer Exhibition.
According to curator Alexander Petrovichev, the bulldozer is viewed by the artists whose works are on display as a symbol of any suppression of non-official art by authorities. "The bulldozer, as a phenomenon of social and cultural space, has its own motivation, its right, its pathos and nothingness at the same time," he writes in the exhibition's catalogue. "The bulldozer is always near us, just like an armoured train on spare tracks." Among the participating artists will be Konstantin Batynkov, Alexander Gradoboyev and Natalia Turnova.
VP Studio gallery is to feature an exhibition named "Myortvye Dushi" ("Dead Souls") after Nikolai Gogol's classic 19th century novel, with artists like Konstantin Zvezdochyotov, Vladimir Dubosarsky and Pavel Pepperstein taking part.
Another exhibition worth looking at is "Russky Zavtrak na Trave" ("Russian Breakfast on the Grass") by Natasha Arendt at Shchusev Museum, featuring still lifes depicting various kinds of food in a natural environment. "Russia's tragedy is that it has always had either too little or too much food, which made us take food too seriously," the exhibition's curator explained.
Other highlights of the parallel programme include "Metel" ("Snow Storm") by the Sini Sup (Blue Soup) group at XL Gallery, "Crazy Finns", predictably featuring contemporary Finnish art at the exhibition hall of the Pushkin museum, "Slowar: Dictionary of War", featuring a number of artists from Italy, Israel, Great Britain, Russia and other countries, and an exhibition with a title that says a lot, "F**CK YOUNG", at Art-berloga.
Among the Biennale's special programmes, "Prostranstvennaya Liturgiya" ("Space Liturgy") by extravagant Russian performance artist, sculptor, photographer and curator Oleg Kulik is set to appeal to shopaholics as much as art-lovers, as the venue will be the TsUM department store. The exhibition features a several hundred metre-long mirror maze based on ideas from performances by Russian artists over the last 40 years, which the artist himself described as "a kingdom of shadows and ghosts".
Other special programmes worth checking out include the installation "Moskovskoye Vremya" ("Moscow Time") in commemoration of the late poet and artist Dmitry Prigov at the foreign literature library, "Novaya Staraya Kholodnaya Voyna" ("New Old Cold War") exploring the Cold War phenomenon and featuring artists from the former Socialist bloc countries at Krasny Oktyabr and the sixth edition of the international festival Art Digital, which this year is to deal with the issue of "otherness", at the contemporary art centre M'ARS.
In addition, several high profile artists, including Israel's Mikhail Grobman, Belgium's Luc Tuymans and Russian artists Vladimir Sychev, Vladimir Tarasov and Olga Chernysheva are to exhibit their works as the event's special guests. Two more internationally recognised contemporary artists, France's Bertrand Lavier and British sculptor Antony Gormley, were also invited and confirmed participation but later pulled out, though Gormley's "Domain Field" installation recently completed a run at Garage.
For a detailed programme of the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (in English) go to: http://3rd.moscowbiennale.ru/en
Main venues of the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art
Garage Contemporary Art
Centre, 19A Obraztsova Ul., m. Novoslobodskaya
KROKIN Gallery, 15 Bolshaya Polyanka, m. Polyanka
VP Studio, 17 Trubnikovsky Per., m. Smolenskaya
Shchusev Museum, 5 Ul. Vozdvizhenka,
m. Arbatskaya, Borovitskaya
XL Gallery, 1 4th Syromyatni-chesky Per., bldg. 6, Vinzavod, m. Kurskaya
Exhibition hall of the Pushkin museum, 55/32 Ul. Arbat, m. Smolenskaya
Artberloga, 1 4th Syromyatni-chesky Per., bldg. 6, Vinzavod, m. Kurskaya
TsUM, 2 Petrovka Ul.
Foreign Literature Library, 1 Ul. Nikoloyamskaya, m. Taganskaya
Krasny Oktyabr, 6 Bersenevskaya Nab., bldg. 1, m. Kropotkinskaya
Contemporary art centre M'ARS, 5 Pushkarev Per., m. Trubnaya
The Moscow News