With the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale postponed to August 29 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, concerns are still swirling over whether the outbreak will be under control by the time of the festival. Australia has already withdrawn, and now Russia has announced plans to move its pavilion entirely online.

“Given the seriousness of the wider context of the pandemic and the resulting global economic crisis,” reads the release from the Russian team, “it is impossible to simply resume the project as if nothing had happened. Caught amid this uncertainty are all the young artists and cultural activists whom we invited to work on the Pavilion. Going digital ensures the continuation of their projects.”

The decision was a mutual one between the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the curator of the pavilion, architect Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, as well as the pavilion’s operator, Anastasia Karneeva of Smart Art. In a somewhat cheeky twist, the name of the “installation” has also been changed from Open! to Open? to reflect the now-non-physical nature of the project; this will allow participating teams to explore new formats and let the public view their work.

More information on the Russian Pavilion, as well as the actual projects, can be found at pavilionrus.com. In June, artist and game designer Mikhail Maximov will also launch his videogame contribution to the festival there, where participants can (ironically enough), wander around a post-apocalyptic, deserted Giardini.