The idea for the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI) emerged in the mid 1970s in a conversation between Andrei Monastyrski, Nikita Alexeev, and Lev Rubinstein. In March 1976, the group Collective Actions organized its first action and in the late 1980s Monastyrski presented the first volume of Trips Out of Town, a collection of documents related to the group’s projects. “I collected materials on the actions and organized them as an anthology that included descriptive texts and participants’ accounts, compiled the list of authors, wrote the foreword, etc. In a way, it was an ‘accountant’s’ job. I was not only the compiling editor but also the publisher and the printer-I printed the four copies of the volume myself,” he recollects. “Nikolai Panitkov bound them and I glued the photographs in”.
The Andrei Monastyrski archive contains five anthologies of the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI): Ding an sich (No. 1), Rooms (No. 2), Agros (No. 3), Materials for Publication (No. 4), and Rivers, Lakes and Meadows (No. 5). The anthologies contain texts, photographs and original art including works on paper and photographs by Monastyrski, and drawings by Ilya Kabakov. The anthology Materials for Publication is composed as an art object with several photographic series by Monastyrski. All of the anthologies were made between 1986 and 1991. Monastyrski, Kabakov, and Anatoly Zhigalov and Natalia Abalakova each had a copy, with one copy belonging to different people at different times.
The group was founded in 1976. The original members were Nikita Alexeev (until 1980), George Kiesewalter, Andrei Monastyrski, Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich, and (in 1985) Sabine Haensgen. In 1989, the participants decided to put the group’s activities on pause, resuming their practice in 1995. Collective Actions took part in the Biennale of Dissent in Venice in 1977 and returned to Venice in 2011 during the 54th Biennale with the exhibition Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions.
Andrei Monastyrski (b. 1949, Petsamo, Murmansk Oblast) is an artist and one of the founders of Moscow Conceptualism. He graduated in Philology from Moscow State University in 1980. In 1976 he co-founded Collective Actions and became the group’s theorist and creator of most of its projects. In the 1980s and early 1990s he was the author and editor of the 13 volumes of documentation for the Collective Actions project Trips Out of Town and of the MANI (Moscow Archive of New Art) anthologies. Together with Vadim Zakharov and Yuri Leiderman, he participated in the groups Kapiton (2008–2010) and Corbusier (2009–2010).
Solo exhibitions include: Paticular Histories (with Conrad Atkinson), exhibition space in Peresvetov Lane, Moscow (1991); Branch, XL Gallery, Moscow (1997); Earthworks, Stella Art Gallery, Moscow (2005); Andrei Monastyrski, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2010); Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions, Russian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); and Out of Town: Andrei Monastyrski & Collective Actions, e-flux, New York (2011). Group exhibitions include: New Art from the Soviet Union. An Unofficial Perspective, Biennale of Dissent, Venice (1977); Binational: Soviet Art Around 1990, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Central House of Artists, Moscow (1991–1992); the 50th and 52nd Venice Biennale (2003, 2007), documenta 12, Kassel (2007); and Russian Performance: A Cartography of Its History, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2014). He has been awarded the Andrei Bely Prize for the Contribution to the Development of Literature (Russia, 2003) and the Innovation Prize in the category “Theory, Critique, Art History” (Russia, 2009). He lives and works in Moscow.