The Daily Heller: Russia’s Golden Bee Biennale Gets Good Buzz

Posted inDesign Events & Conferences
Thumbnail for The Daily Heller: Russia’s Golden Bee Biennale Gets Good Buzz

The largest, indeed a honey of an international poster biennale fest in all Russia, the Golden Bee, was born in 1992. “Suddenly, unexpectedly and vaguely expected,” says founder and president Serge Serov.

In 1990 following the Iron Curtain collapse—and after glasnost ushered in a visual feast of graphic design —Serov recalls he “was abroad for the first time” at the hugely respected poster biennale in Brno, Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia). He was instantly “plunged into its oversaturated and multilingual environment, which turned out to be native and understandable thanks to the universal language of graphic design.” He decided to found his own festival.

The Brno Biennale was an inspiring cultural model, and it was around this time that other biennales were hitting their strides in Warsaw (Poland), Lahti (Finland), Fort Collins (USA), Chaumont (France), Mexico City (Mexico), Trnava (Slovakia), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Kharkiv (Ukraine). The Golden Bee, Moscow’s pioneer biennale, attracted inspiring posters and designers.

“Today, despite all the talk about ‘death of posters’ in the world,” Serov asserts, one by one, hubs in Bolivia, Italy, China, Ecuador, Slovakia and elsewhere are forming “a kind of global network of design events that monitor visual culture and determine its development.”

From its earliest use, the poster has been the meeting place for art and design, for emotion and rationality, for an author’s uniqueness and universality and for its comprehensiveness. The beginning of the ’90s was a turning point not only for Russia, but the entire design world, which experienced a paradigm shift—the output of Postmodernism to the forefront of history; the computer revolution an onset of the digital era, contributed too. The poster tied it all together.

Serov asserts that the poster is “perhaps the most attractive genre for graphic designers today, as it works as a generator of professional innovations, as a space for plastic experiments and art’s development. For the audience the poster is increasingly becoming a tool for understanding of the time, a manual for creative thinking, a source of joy and inspiration.” Criteria for acceptance in the Golden Bee always considers “semantic expressiveness; the emotional content of the poster; its stylistic, genre and shape innovation; how it expands the boundaries of the profession; cultural identity; and ethical correctness,” he adds.

The Golden Bee is a gold standard of the poster’s ongoing relevance. The scale of the event, its timely categories and global outreach have grown over the years, making it the largest showcase of achievements in the field of posters and graphic design for the number of entries and the number of exhibits.

Designs are selected by an international jury based on relevant thematic categories. The 2020 Golden Bee 14 (un)Real, which continues on tour throughout Russia until April 2021, includes 14 nominations in the following buckets: Poster unlimited; Bauhaus 100/VKHUTEMAS 100; Russian seasons; Classics alive; Heavenly Jerusalem; Peace be with you!; Zero corruption; Design performances; Interactive video installations; Supershort video; Design-selfie; Graphic novels; Stickers; Children posters. At the last moment, owing to global events, two topics were unexpectedly added, which became special projects of the biennale: Coronavirus & we; and Long life Belarus!

Registration to the Golden Bee 14 (un)Real ended on April 15, 2020, as the pandemic raged. More than 30,000 entries from 88 countries were offered for the exhibition. The fourteen member Pre-Selection Committee chose more than 1,600 entries for the final exhibition.

The International jury consisted of Majid Abbasi (Iran-Canada), April Greiman (USA), Dirk Behaj and Evelyn ter Becke (Netherlands-France), Götz Gramlich (Germany), Radovan Jenko (Slovenia), Alex Jordan (Germany-France), Lars Muller (Switzerland), Kenya Hara (Japan), Jianping He (China-Germany), Nikolai Shtok (Russia), Istvan Oros (Hungary, jury chairman), Kari Piippo, (Finland), Jonas Vogeli (Germany) and Peter Javorik (Slovakia).

After the jury conducted its work online, the following prizes were awarded:

GRAND PRIX

Cybu Richli, Fabienne Burri, C2F (Switzerland)

POSTER UNLIMITED

Emran Abdollahi (Iran)

Zheng Bangqian (China)

Kashiwa Daisuke (Japan)

Rui Deng (China)

Detlef Fiedler, Cyan (Germany)

Fons Hickmann (Germany)

Patrycja Longawa (Poland)

Guanlin Mai (China)

Lech Majewski (Poland)

Dmitry Rekin (Russia)

Ralph Schraivogel (Switzerland)

Ariane Spanier (Germany)

Niklaus Troxler (Switzerland)

Martin Woodtli (Switzerland)

BAUHAUS 100 / VKHUTEMAS 100

Oleg Korytov (Russia)

Christoph Stettler (Switzerland)

Laze Tripkov (Macedonia)

RUSSIAN SEASONS

Dmitry Rekin (Russia)

CLASSICS ALIVE

Jouri Toreev (Belarus)

HEAVENLY JERUSALEM

Adan Paredes Barrera (Mexico)

PEACE BE WITH YOU!

Uwe Loesch (Germany)

Katalin Simo (Hungary)

ZERO CORRUPTION

Fabian Сarreras (Argentina)

Katalin Simo (Hungary)

DESIGN PERFORMANCES

Lampo Leong (Macao)

INTERACTIVE VIDEO INSTALLATIONS

Jeong Ji-young (South Korea)

Stefan Sagmeister (USA)

SUPERSHORT VIDEO

Mario Fuentes (Ecuador)

Maryia Hilep (Belarus)

DESIGN-SELFIE

Evgeny Taboriskiy (Ukraine-Russia-Germany)

Olga Synyshyn (Poland)

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Elmer Sosa (México)

STIСKERS

Maria Afonchikova (Russia)

Vanya Dudchenko (Ukraine)

CHILDREN POSTERS

Oleksandra Kutsyna, Aza Nizi Maza (Ukraine)

Anastasia Tron, Aza Nizi Maza (Ukraine)

CORONAVIRUS & WE

Damian Kłaczkiewicz (Poland)

Noordyanto Naufan (Indonesia)

Alain Le Quernec (France)

During this calamitous pandemic year, Serge Serov must also be congratulated. For owing to his indefatigable spirit, and devotion to the poster that kept the Golden Bee buzz, buzz, buzzy and buzzing.

Serov and colleague open the hive.