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Russia is trying to engineer its own contemporary art boom. But it is too much in thrall to non-Russian artists and curators—and runs the risk of ignoring its home-grown talent

By Ben Lewis   April 2007

A massive project is under way in Russia, comparable in scale and boldness to the construction of the White sea canal. The mayor of Moscow, big businesses and an elite of Russian art collectors are engineering their own contemporary art boom.

Someone kindly thought I was important enough to play a part, and so, at the beginning of March, I accepted an invitation to join a small group of British curators on a jolly to the second Moscow biennale. As we shuttled between art exhibitions and free dinners, I witnessed the early stages of a five-year plan to create a…

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