Biennial Controversies News Russian Federation

Petition to move Manifesta biennial from St Petersburg hits 1,000 supporters

Signatories want organisers to postpone or pick another city because of Russia’s “draconian” anti-gay laws

Londoners protest Russia's anti-gay law in August

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition asking the travelling European art biennial Manifesta to reconsider St Petersburg as the location of its 2014 edition. Citing recent anti-gay laws and a rise in violence against gay people in Russia, the petition argues that the event should be “awarded to a different city, postponed until human rights are restored, or cancelled as a sign of support for the LGBT community”.

The Irish artist and curator Noel Kelly, who wrote the petition and published it on Change.org, sent a copy to the Manifesta director Hedwig Fijen on Monday, soon after it reached 1,000 signatures. In light of new laws that ban the adoption of Russian children to gay couples and that permit the arrest of tourists suspected of being gay or pro-gay, “It is important that we send a message to the Russian government that such draconian measures will not be tolerated,” the petition states. Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1, tweeted his support for the petition on Monday, but suggested it might not be going far enough. "Biennales are a first step, but the Olympics are the most important goal," he wrote.

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