HAMISH ROBERTSON: Well, perhaps Gorki Park in Moscow could one day be the setting for a Christo installation.
There was a time, in Russia's grey communist past, when such a thing would have been unthinkable. As in Nazi Germany, modern art of any kind was considered degenerate, and the only acceptable form of artistic expression had to conform to the officially approved aesthetic of social realism.
But that has all changed since the collapse of communism. After more than eleven years of being locked away from the public, Moscow's Lenin Museum has once again opened its doors.
It used to be a display case for the memorabilia of Soviet revolutionary, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. But as Emma Griffiths reports, the reopened museum is now housing an exhibition which really does have Lenin turning in his grave.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Lenin Museum is just a skip away from Red Square where the man himself lies in his mausoleum. Right now specialists are washing his body and giving him a new set of clothes, just regular maintenance work for the embalmed revolutionary.
But at the Lenin Museum he's been given even more of a makeover, courtesy of a team of contemporary Russian artists as explained by curator Yevgeny Zyablov.
YEVGENY ZYABLOV: In Russian we have a famous joke. When Lenin listens to something new, Lenin turning in his grave. Yes, and you can see in this project of our artists named Blue Noses Russian Artists Team, Lenin is actually turning in his grave.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: The art installation projects an image of Lenin lying as he does in the mausoleum. But then he stirs, turns over and goes back to sleep. This irreverent piece of art would never have made the cut during Soviet times.
But now the museum once devoted to preserving Lenin's reputation is hosting Moscow's first biennial of modern art. And not surprisingly, Lenin's image is prominent.
YEVGENY ZYABLOV: Reflection about Lenin is understandable because nobody wants to come back, to return to Lenin's time. For us it's very important.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: Looking through the museum it's clear the political theme has been taken up by many contemporary Russian artists. The Biennial's Semyon Mikhailovsky shows me around.
SEMYON MIKHAILOVSKY: So now we have a lot of political installations. Not because it's the idea of curators but artists produce things, maybe it's the shadow of Lenin or something.
It's a work by Alexei Kallima, it's a Russian symbol, hammer and sickle and it's the figure of Chechnya terrorist and a soldier. So he combined this Soviet symbol, two figures, so it means for me all these problems it goes from the Soviet past, all these problems with Chechnya.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: And what's this one here? This is macaroni.
SEMYON MIKHAILOVSKY: 'It's not a bomb'. It's (inaudible). In different places he put objects, food, with special machines, and batteries, Eveready, it's Duracel, and 'it's not a bomb'. And everywhere he's written, 'it's not a bomb'. It looks like a bomb, but it's not a bomb.
And inside is food, you know, food is a very important symbol of Soviet Russia because nowhere was food, so it's not a bomb. It's provocative, of course, but at the same time it has so many cultural ideas.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: Such works have brought more than 50,000 people back to the Lenin museum, many of them too young to remember times when revering Lenin was expected, like18-year-old students Kate and Anna.
KATE: We decided to have some art in our lives, to visit this wonderful exhibition.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: And what do you think of the art here?
ANNA: It is wonderful, it's very interesting, because modern art, we are a fan of modern art, so we just want to know more about this and...
KATE: This part of people's life you know.
ANNA: And we want to be more broadminded and to have more interesting ideas.
KATE: It is interesting every time when you look and when you improve and when you listen what the other people do, you know?
EMMA GRIFFITHS: During soviet times many of the pieces would never have been accepted by the regime. Artists then showed their work not in galleries or museums but in their own homes or small studios.
The Biennial has also brought those apartments back to life and showcased some Russian contemporary artists who prefer to stay underground, like Garrik Vinogradov.
GARRIK VINOGRADOV: I made a construction with sound, very different sound. I combine sounds and combined also different elements, fire, water.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: Who comes to see your apartment?
GARRIK VINOGRADOV: Different public. It's no limit, so everybody can come, but mostly come people from artistic circles, music circles.
EMMA GRIFFITHS: Over the past 20 years Garrick has strung hundreds of pipes, metal beams, and machine pieces throughout his apartment. The pieces are from cars, factories, planes, even spacecraft. He describes his apartment as a magic place. It's certainly far removed from the Moscow of Lenin's tomb and red square.
This is Emma Griffiths in Moscow for Correspondents Report. Links:1 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art // GiF.Ru Print version