The Pure Sound of a Clay Whistle Toy
“On March 16, 2019, the first exhibition curated by Lena Ishchenko and me opened at Typography Center for Contemporary Art. By that time, we had been sharing our interest in ceramics for over a year, exchanging photographs of works made by Russian and international artists via social media. And in November 2018 we decided to start working on an exhibition. While working on the exhibition and thinking about a title for it, I stumbled across an article in the magazine Nauka i zhizn (Science and Life) that explained how the clay whistle was transformed from a magical instrument believed to be capable of causing wind or rain and scaring away evil spirits into something else. It developed in two different ways. The first resulted in a flute-type whistling device, with a clay, egg- or cigar-shaped body, i.e. an ocarina. The second involved becoming part of folklore, whereby the clay whistle can be both a separate object executed in the form of a bird or a small animal and part of an larger object, like the Filimonovo clay dolls. This split affected not just the clay toy, but also the material of clay in general. These two conditions-clay as a material of “high” sculpture and that of handicrafts-define the arch of relations explored by the exhibition. What is more associated with clay objects: a cozy flat-with dogs on the doorstep, tiled kitchen floor, a red corner, a kid’s room and cigarette butts on the balcony-the logic of which the show is built upon, or the white cube of a museum or exhibition space? Along with this “high” curatorial question we were bothered by another, “low” one: how to ship works from Paris, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Tagil and Moscow to this white cube space. And, frankly speaking, there were delivered in our and our friends’ hand luggage. Artists put their works at risk, we felt extremely nervous, a few pieces were slightly damaged, for instance, Andrey Syaylev’s “tile” printed onto a mirror surface (it is visible on the photo from the archive) and Apo Broche’s bear cub which cracked during the return shipping. Lena took the burden of discussing it with Andrey and me, with Apo. Relief awaited both of us though, a very rarely experienced feeling-when you realize that everyone understands and is not disappointed. Speaking from today, May 2020, I can state that I still love ceramics, but only now I see clearly why. It seems that we still automatically pronounce words about imposture while continuing to introduce ourselves as cool workers representing no less cool institutions, for example, when sending an offer to an artist to invite them contribute to a show. We try to overcome our imposture using the touching public ocarina-flute-but we genuinely experience it at our homes, just as we do with clay pots and plates.
Kruchinsky Marianna | 19 June 2020
The Living/Dead Nook
Author: Vasily Subbotin The Measuring Equipment Factory (ZIP) in Krasnodar, which has played an important role in the history of the Typography Center for Contemporary Art and ZIP group, opened on April 29, 1939. Production of measuring and testing devices at the factory has now ceased, but the 81-year-old building is still in use, even though its function has changed. The number of people working in the factory’s large assembly shops reached a peak in 1989. However, as demand for its products gradually declined, production volumes dropped and the management began to rent out those spaces that were no longer needed. In 1993, the factory was privatised and converted into a joint-stock company, which collapsed within its first year began the process of bankruptcy. In 1997, Krasnodar Exhibition Center opened in the control room and a number of workshops, but that failed to save the factory. In 2012, ZIP reported losses of 28,9 million rubles. Burdened by obsolete equipment, years of losses, and accumulated debts, ZIP was forced to cease production. Most of its spaces were rented out as offices, originally to other producers. In 2006 and 2007 furniture workshops and advertisers moved there, as did a dumpling company. In recent years, a creative cluster has formed spontaneously on the premises (I call it a cluster, but there is no community, and tenants are not necessarily aware of who their neighbors are), which includes a variety of small businesses (from ironmongers to furniture makers), artist studios, theater and photographers’ workshops, lofts, and coworking spaces. In 2009, inspired by the history of ZIP, artists Vasily and Stepan Subbotin, Evgeny Rimkevich, Eldar Ganeev, Konstantin Chekmaryov, and Denis Serenko founded ZIP group, which was named after the factory, and opened a studio in its building. In 2011 they launched the Krasnodar Institute of Contemporary Art, which was followed a year later by the Typography Center for Contemporary Art. The Living Nook was ZIP group’s first project at the semi-abandoned factory. Their ambition was to create a space outside of time, which would erase the boundaries between the past and the present. The factory’s huge spaces testified to its grand history, but all that was left were piles of rubbish-artefacts of the Soviet era. This rubbish provided material for an exhibition in the now empty factory spaces, with photographs of sometimes unrecognizable celebrities on the wall of honor and a board game based on a found diagram that is a reminder of human encounters at the factory and of collective labour. The structure of the objects was suggested by the ruins themselves: the spaces inside and outside of the factory. Artists renting studios at ZIP currently include Recycle Group and Igor Mikhaylenko. Another resident was Lyudmila Baronina, who later moved to Moscow. Since August 2019 the factory’s former canteen has been occupied by Typography Center for Contemporary Art. You might be wondering when I will finally explain what I meant by the “dead nook.” If you look at the photos and watch the videos selected for RAAN, you will require no further explanation. What is gentrification if not this ZIP zombie-land? I like zombies, by the way.
Kruchinsky Marianna | 18 June 2020
The exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika: From the History of Leningrad’s Art Scene, 1949-1989
The exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika, which opened in Leningrad on January 8, 1989, became an event that documented the rapid changes in the local art scene brought on by the reforms in Soviet politics and economics. The history of the project was closely connected to several organizations that emerged or changed the course of their work in the late 1980s. The first was the Leningrad Club of Art Historians, founded in 1986 as part of the USSR Culture Fund by Leningrad State University professor Ivan Chechot and several alumni. To find out more about the Club’s activities, see Alla Mitrofanova and Andrei Khlobystin’s text “Contemporary Soviet Criticism and the Leningrad Club of Art Historians” (in Russian) in Garage Archive Collection. In 1987, the Club organized a conference on art and culture in the second half of the twentieth century. [1] Invited speakers included art historian Valery Turchin with a talk on the Italian Transavantgarde, author Arkady Dragomoshchenko, who spoke about postmodernism, and artist Timur Novikov, who presented his re-composition method. The future organizers of the exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika-Ekaterina Andreeva, Alla Mitrofanova, Olesya Turkina, and Andrei Khlobystin-who were all members of the Club, were also speakers. Alla Mitrofanova gave a talk about the exhibition Forty Years of Modern Art, 1945-1985, which had taken place at Tate in London two years earlier. The exhibition of works from Tate’s own collection was organized chronologically and presented key artists and movements in the postwar art of Europe and the USA. [2] The idea of a museum show on very recent developments in art, as opposed to famous masterpieces of the past, must have inspired the members of the Club: From Unofficial Art to Perestroika was conceived as a similar project that would present the changing “landscape of Leningrad art over forty years,” [3] or “forty years of Leningrad art.” [4] Another inspiration behind the project, as Ekaterina Andreeva recalls [5], was the series of exhibitions Retrospective of Moscow Artists, 1957-1987 organized by the Hermitage Association of art enthusiasts at 100, Profsoyuznaya Street in Moscow in 1987. Like their Moscow colleagues, Leningrad art historians believed that, in the local context, only art that had emerged from the underground scene or was connected to it could be considered truly contemporary. Many members of the Leningrad Club of Art Historians worked in museums [6], however, it was the support of a private organization, the Ariadna Cooperative, that made the preparation of a large-scale exhibition on the history of Leningrad unofficial/contemporary art possible. The economic reforms of perestroika included the Cooperative Law of 1988, which allowed non-governmental organizations to undertake commercial activities. Ariadna was among Leningrad’s first registered cooperatives that sold unofficial/contemporary art. Headed by Tatyana Kulikova, it employed Inessa Vinogradova as an art historian and consultant. She was on friendly terms with unofficial artists and also worked with Alla Mitrofanova at Pavlovsk Museum and Reserve. Initially, Ariadna did not have its own exhibition space. Perhaps, with the idea of attracting clients interested in contemporary art, the cooperative decided to organize a large-scale temporary exhibition that would feature works by artists of different generations. Alla Mitrofanova was invited to join the project through Inessa Vinogradova, followed by her colleagues from the Leningrad Club of Art Historians. This collaboration resulted in the exhibition From Unofficial Art to Perestroika at Pavilion 1 of the Harbour Exhibition Complex, which was rented for the event. Poster for the exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika: From the History of Leningrad’s Art Scene, 1949-1989. Design by Andrei Khlobystin, 1989. Garage Archive Collection (Andrey Khlobystin archive) Poster for the exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika: From the History of Leningrad’s Art Scene, 1949-1989. Design by Alexander Florensky, 1989. Garage Archive Collection (Andrei Khlobystin archive) The exhibition featured “over 200 artists and around 2,000 works” [7] that presented the history of Leningrad’s “unofficial” (or nonconformist) and contemporary art from 1949 to 1989. The project, Andrei Khlobystin recalls, was co-curated by the organizers. “Alla [Mitrofanova] and I curated the New Artists, with whom I then collaborated as an art historian and an artist, the Necrorealists and the artists of the NCh/VCh squat, where I had a studio, as well as the Depressionists and other artists of the young avant-garde. Ekaterina [Andreeva] was responsible for Soviet nonconformist art, Olesya [Turkina] for the Sterligov school and Mitki group. Other curators (a role that was then unheard of) were Inessa Vinogadova and Nikolay Suvorov.” [8] In Leningrad, official exhibitions of unofficial art spaces were quite common throughout the 1980s. Starting from 1982, the Cooperative of Experimental Art (TEII) [9] organized regular shows of “independent” artists of different generations. Their ninth exhibition, which took place at the Harbour Exhibition Complex in 1987, was one of the biggest and featured works by 160 artists, from representatives of Gazanevsky culture to the New Artists, Necrorealists and Mitki group of the 1980s. That same year the Vernisazh Association of Artists, Art Historians, and Art Enthusiasts was registered with Iosif Khrabry as its head. They also worked on bringing underground art to the broader public and organised exhibitions by Solomon Rossin, Igor Ivanov, the New Artists, Vladimir Sterligov, and others at the Sverdlov House of Culture. Discussing the exhibition of the New Artists at Sverdlov House of Culture, Leningrad. Photo: Gennady Prikhodko, 1988. Garage Archive Collection (Andrei Khlobystin archive) The Cooperative of Experimental Art’s exhibitions were largely focused on artists who were still active on the scene. The only exhibition with a retrospective element was Contemporary Art of Leningrad at Manege Exhibition Hall. The main section of that exhibition, which opened toward the end of 1988, was focused on artists who had taken part in the Cooperative’s previous projects and the more avant-garde artists of the Leningrad Branch of the Soviet Union of Artists. Unofficial Art to Perestroika was organized in parallel with Contemporary Art of Leningrad and partly in opposition to it. The young curators believed that juxtaposing “independent” artists with members of the state-run Union was no longer interesting. Instead, they wanted to show the connections between Soviet unofficial art and the contemporary art of Leningrad. Unofficial Art to Perestroika was the first attempt to create a research-based project that reviewed the history of Leningrad’s contemporary art and the circles, schools, movements, and groups that constituted it. In one of the explanatory texts for the project, its concept was formulated as follows: This exhibition is essentially a follow-up to the exhibition of the art of the 1920s and 1930s at the State Russian Museum, but it has certain peculiarities that reflect the specificity of postwar art, on which is limited printed material and which has no tradition of self-reflection. Our exhibition is intended as a broad study of culture: rather than presenting a great number of artists, we wanted to outline the key movements and types of art. Our main goal was to show the scale of this era’s culture and to foster its self-awareness by introducing a number of critical, historical, and philosophical ideas regarding its development.” [10] The exhibition design was based on the use of exhibition stands, which were very common in the 1980s. Corridors made of stands converged toward the central pavilion, where meetings took place and a café was organized. The exhibition opened with the artists of the Arefiev circle, the Sidlin group, the Sterligov school, the Hermitage group, and other representatives of the older generation of Leningrad unofficial art. Most artists and groups who started showing their work in the 1980s were presented deep inside the gallery space. “The exhibition was conceived as a museum of Leningrad’s contemporary art and the design was set out like a tree,” Olesya Turkina recalls. “The soil that nourished it was the apartment exhibitions of the 1970s (the symbol of Leningrad’s art life of that time) and its roots lay in the work of the students of Malevich, Filonov, and Matyushin, who continued the tradition of the avant-garde, and in the neoexpressionist movement that developed in Leningrad in the 1950s and 1960s.” [11] Garage Archive Collection holds a floor plan of the exhibition, which shows its structure. Floor plan of the exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika: From the History of Leningrad’s Art Scene, 1949-1989 made by Ekaterina Andreeva for Lyubov Gurevich, 1989. Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Lyubov Gurevich archive) To provide a historical perspective, the exhibition also included works borrowed from collectors, as Ekaterina Andreeva explains. “The only collector Alla Mitrofanova and Andrei Khlobystin knew was Lev Katzenelson, whose wife owned the apartment they were renting at Kirovsky Zavod. Katzenelson lived on Marat Street. He was an old man who seemed to have come out straight of the Bible. [. . .] Igor Ivanov gave me a list of phone numbers and addresses of some key collectors (Anatoly Sidorov, Irina Koreneva, Rimma Loginova, Yury Pozin, Boris Bezobrazov), a print-out of Gazanevshchina by [Anatoly] Basin, told me about [Osip] Sidlin and sent me to [Alexander] Arefiev’s friend, the architect and artist Yury Medvedev. Through Medvedev and [Dmitry] Shagin I met Oleg Frontinsky who had incredible paintings by Ustyugov and several folders with drawings by the artists of the Arefiev circle. He also had a great early self-portrait by [Richard] Vasmi… Lev Katzenelson, 1986. Garage Archive Collection (Lyubov Gurevich archive) Oleg Frontinsky, Yulia Gorskaya, Oleg Grigoriev, 1970s. Garage Archive Collection (Lyubov Gurevich archive) Oleg Frontinsky’s collection at his apartment, 1990s. Photo: Lyubov Gurevich. Garage Archive Collection (Lyubov Gurevich archive) Nikolai Blagodatov and Richard Vasmi, 1990s. Garage Archive Collection (Lyubov Gurevich archive) I was just a girl who nobody knew, but the collectors were very friendly and considerate. Now I understand that they were happy to see young people finally interested in the cause to which they had devoted their lives (and some, like Rimma Loginova’s then deceased husband Igor, who was tormented by the KGB, remained devoted to it until the bitter end). Sidorov, who lived in one of the Stalin-era buildings at Sennaya Square, told me how he used to give lectures on Gazanevsky artists in his institute, and how later, when the management no longer allowed him to do that, his colleagues started inviting him home for tea to talk about paintings. That was how home lectures became a thing in the 1970s. He had hand-written business cards and a gentlemanly, encouraging manner about him. Koreneva, who lived in Tallinskaya Street, was the muse of [Yuri] Galetsky and gave me her portrait by him. She told me how in the 1970s, when she hosted apartment exhibitions, her door had to be removed so that she could not be accused of organizing them: the apartment was open, so anyone could come in and do whatever they wanted. Pozin offered my husband and me tea and cake and told us a curious story about the local policeman who came to enquire about Vladimir Ovchinnikov’s painting St. Sebastian-a composition with a prisoner in a vatnik padded jacket standing by a pylon- and whether it was a portrait of some dissident. [. . .] The oldest of the collectors, Bezobrazov, told me to come alone and came to meet me in the empty street to make sure no one came with me. They all had been through a lot and paid more than just money for their collections. I haven’t mentioned Nikolai Blagodatov yet: he had already given his collection to Sergei Kovalsky for the exhibition at Manege (there was a big rivalry between us and the Cooperative of Experimental Art at the time). But the day before the opening, Blagodatov came to the Harbour with a drawing by Basin and I gratefully included it in the exhibition.” [12] Unofficial Art to Perestroika was first and foremost a curatorial project that presented the history of postwar art in Leningrad. However, it was also a commercial show: Ariadna Cooperative were in charge of the sales of works provided by the artists. In addition to individual buyers, the State Russian Museum acquired several works of the 1960s and 1970s for its collection. After the exhibition closed, Ariadna organized Leningrad’s first auction of unofficial/contemporary art. Participants disagree as to whether it was successful. Mixing commercial and non-commercial exhibition formats was one on the specific traits of art during perestroika, where ideas on contemporary art and ways of understanding it and working with it were formed in the local context. Café and lecture space at the exhibition Unofficial Art to Perestroika: From the Art History of Leningrad, 1949-1989. Left to right at the table in the foreground: Enver Baykiev, Alexey Adashevsky, Arkady Dragomoshchenko, Andrei Khlobystin, Inessa Vinogradova. Table at back left: Nikolay Suvorov and Dmitry Shagin. Table at back right: Boris Smelov (right) and others, 1989. Garage Archive Collection (Andrei Khlobystin archive) Exhibition views can be found in the book TEII. Ot Leningrada k Sankt-Peterburgu. “Neofitsialnoe” iskusstvo 1981-1991 godov. [Cooperative of Experimental Art. From Leningrad to St. Petersburg, “Unofficial” Art 1981-1991]. Edited by S. Kovalsky, E. Orlov, and Y. Rybakov (St. Petersburg: OOO “Izdatelstvo DEAN,” 2007), 440-460. 1. The program of the conference is published in Andrei Khlobystin, Shizorevolyutsiya. Ocherki peterburgskoi kultury vtoroi poloviny XX veka [Schizorevolution. Notes from St. Petersburg Culture in the Second Half of the 20th Century] (St. Petersburg: Borey Art, 2017), p.116 2. For the exhibition, see Lewis Biggs, Forty Years of Modern Art 1945-1985 (London, Tate Gallery; The Burlington Magazine, 128 (998), 1986, 366-367 and 371. 3. Garage Archive Collection (Andrey Khlobystin archive), inventory number AKH.III.1989-D5476. 4. Interview with Andrei Khlobystin, April 2, 2020. 5. Ekaterina Andreeva, Materials for the biography of Timur Novikov; Timur. “Vrat tolko pravdu!” [Timur. Lie Only with Truth!], edited by Ekaterina Andreeva (St. Petersburg: Amfora, 2007), 423. One of the curators of the exhibition series Retrospective of Moscow Artists, 1957-1987, Leonid Bazhanov, also spoke about the project at the conference of the Leningrad Club of Art Historians in 1987. 6. Alla Mitrofanova worked at Pavlovsk Museum and Reserve and Ekaterina Andreeva and Olesya Turkina worked at the State Russian Museum. 7. Olesya Turkina, Iskusstvo Leningrada/Peterburga 1980-1990-kh. Perekhodnyi period, diss. kand. isk. [The Art of Leningrad/St. Petersburg in the 1980s and 1990s. The Transition Period], Candidate of Art History thesis, 17.00.04 (St. Petersburg: State Russian Museum, 1999), 74. 8. Interview with Andrei Khlobystin, April 2, 2020. 9. For more information see TEII. Ot Leningrada k Sankt-Peterburgu. “Neofitsialnoe” iskusstvo 1981-1991 godov. [Cooperative of Experimental Art. From Leningrad to St. Petersburg, “Unofficial” Art 1981-1991]. Edited by S. Kovalsky, E. Orlov, and Y. Rybakov (St. Petersburg: OOO “Izdatelstvo DEAN,” 2007). 10. Garage Archive Collection (Andrei Khlobystin archive), inventory number AKH.III.1989-D5476. 11. Olesya Turkina. Iskusstvo Leningrada/Peterburga 1980-1990-kh. Perekhodnyi period [The Art of Leningrad/St. Petersburg in the 1980s and 1990s. The Transition Period], 74. 12. Interview with Ekaterina Andreeva, April 5, 2020.
Kotyleva Anastasija | 21 May 2020
Do It Yourself: A Practical Independence Course for Women in St. Petersburg
We wanted to create a course to foster emancipation not so much from men, but from our own lack of knowledge and powerlessness. Irina Aktuganova, Co-founder, Cyber Femin Club The Do It Yourself course in practical independence for women was a project by Cyber Femin Club, the first feminist art organization in St. Petersburg, which was founded in 1996 by Alla Mitrofanova and Irina Aktuganova as part of Tekhno Art Center at Pushkinskaya 10 Cultural Center. Cyber Femin Club organized art events and collaborated with various social organizations for women, including: Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg, created during the First Chechen War; and the Women Voters’ League, one of the first human rights organizations in the city. In September 1998, with the support of the George Soros Foundation and grants from Global Fund for Women and Mama Cash, Cyber Femin Club launched the Internet Center for Women, run by Irina Aktuganova, Alla Mitrofanova, IT specialist Olga Levin, and web designer Elena Ivanova. The center introduced NGOs working in women’s rights to computer technology, organized teleconferences, lectures, and seminars and offered free Internet access to all visitors. Center visitors learned to work with computers, e-mail, and search engines, studied the basics of html coding, text and graphics editing, built websites, and worked on social, art, and fundraising projects online. Olga Levina teaching Internet Center for Women visitors to build websites, 1998. Photo: Irina Aktuganova A course that would help women learn to cope with household problems as well as use computer technology was a logical next step in the development of Cyber Femin Club’s education program. Irina Aktuganova on the idea behind Do It Yourself: “In fall 2002 Olga Levina came to me (when all the grants ran out she had to go and work as a system administrator in some company) and told me that they taught them to crimp cables on the sysadmin courses and women were protesting that it’s not women’s work. She thought it would be good to organize a course on technological literacy. I liked the sound of ‘crimping cables’ and came up with the name Do It Yourself, a course in practical independence for women. And then Olga and I decided that it would not be limited to cables but would include all hardware issues (disassembling and reassembling computers like they do with machine guns in the army), car maintenance, fixing home appliances, and renovation work. All the teachers were women.” The first Do It Yourself practical independence course for women ran in 2004. Support from the Gagarin Foundation meant it was free for anyone who applied in person or via a phone call. Classes took place at Experimental Sound Gallery on Sundays and were in two blocks, Computers and Office Machinery and Home Appliances and Tools. The first half of the day was devoted to lectures on computers, where participants learnt where to buy them, which model to choose, and how to fix common problems. During the second half, the group studied home appliances and learnt to use tools such as drills, screwdrivers, and soldering irons. Next came plumbing and electrics classes where they could apply their newly acquired skills. Curriculum of the Do It Yourself practical independence course for women, 2004 Curriculum of the Do It Yourself practical independence course for women, 2004 In its first year, the course was taught by Olga Levina and Tatyana Polyanova. Levina had trained as a system administrator and ran classes on computer technology, while Polyanova had studied at St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University and taught participants to fix home appliances and work with tools. The course was attended by thirty women aged from 20 to 60. Participants did not receive a diploma or completion certificate, but in line with St. Petersburg tradition the course finished with a ball. A class on the repair of home appliances, 2004. Photo: Irina Aktuganova Garage Archive Collection holds a number of documents related to the Do It Yourself course as part of the Irina Aktuganova and Sergei Busov archive. These include a detailed curriculum for the first year of the course, photographs, and a selection of press cuttings on this unique project. Article announcing the launch of the course in the local newspaper Moi Rayon, 2003 Feedback from participants and their interest testified to the importance of Cyber Femin Club’s education project. However, we do not know as much about the rerun of the course, which took place in 2005/2006 and had a broader curriculum that included classes in home renovation and automobile maintenance and repair. New teachers Olga and Ksenia joined the course. Unfortunately, their family names cannot be located in the archive documents. Based on the 2005/2006 course, Cyber Femin Club published a textbook with class materials and Irina Aktuganova’s drawings, which is also part of Garage Archive Collection. Textbook for the Do It Yourself course in practical independence for women, 2006 Documents in the archive also include notes taken by participant Nadezhda Kulikova and published in the local newspaper. A journalist who was at that time learning to drive, Kulikova kept a diary where she described the classes and her experience doing simple repair jobs, such as changing a tyre, spark plugs, and fuses. Article about Do It Youself in the newspaper Moi Rayon, 2006 The significance of the course for the Russian feminist discourse and art practices is yet to be fully understood. Conceived as an art project and carried out in the field of art activism and DIY culture, Do It Yourself responded to the need for a new basis for self-identification among post-Soviet women. Irina Aktuganova explains how projects like Do It Yourself can make a difference: “This project had its own complex genealogy, which we never discussed, as to us it was obvious. We were all Soviet women. And Soviet women could do anything: they were technologically literate because many studied to be engineers. That was what distinguished us from Western feminists and cyberfeminists. For them, providing women access to engineering and programming was an emancipatory practice, whereas for Soviet women those were part of their daily routines, which they hated. A very interesting flip happened with this engineering education. In Soviet times they told us that women should be engineers, work in factories, shift railroad sleepers, and so on, but those were men’s jobs and we wanted to be women and live our womanly lives. In the West women didn’t work-they were provided for by their husbands-and if they paid our husbands more, we would sit at home and take care of the children. That’s what many women thought. When by the end of the 1990s women had saved their families from starvation and life started going uphill, many chose to be supported by their husbands or partners. The media began promoting archaic values and advertising created the female figures of the kept woman, the happy wife and mother, etc. Feminism had no place here. The name of our course rhymed with Ya sama [I’ll Do It Myself], the only feminist show on Russian television, which was hosted by Yulia Menshova from 1995 through 2001. We saw it as creating an opposition to this strange new public sentiment, as we could not believe that Soviet women had fallen so easily for the bourgeois gender stereotype. To us, that revival of patriarchy had no foundation, and generally speaking that turned out to be the case. I suppose women came to our course not only to learn universal skills and become independent from men but also to make a gesture, or even a political statement.”
Udovydchenko Maria | 13 April 2020
Artistic Projects Foundation Chronicle
1987 Sasha Obukhova and Yulia Ovchinnikova volunteer at the Hermitage Association of art enthusiasts. There they meet Leonid Talochkin and help him produce the hand-written catalogue for the exhibition Retrospection. 1990 Alexander (Alik) Sidorov invites Obukhova and Milena Orlova to work on the A-Ya archive, which will later grow into the reference book Who‘s Who in Contemporary Art in Moscow. In 1992, it will be published by Album publishing house founded by Sergei Khripun. 1990 Ovchinnikova works on the catalogue for the exhibition Other Art. 1992 Obukhova starts working at Joseph Backstein’s Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow, where she continues to build an archive. 1993 Ovchinnikova starts working at the Soros Center for Contemporary Art. Her responsibilities include filming Moscow art events. 2001 Some of the key players on the Moscow art scene (including Joseph Backstein, Viktor Misiano, and Marat Guelman) create the Art Projects Foundation (APF), which takes on the projects of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art. The head of APF, Elena Elagina, invites Obukhova and Ovchinnikova to work on its archive. APF and its archive are located in a small room in the Graphic Arts Department of the Surikov Art Institute in Lavrushinsky Lane (previously known as Moscow Secondary Art School). In 2001, the APF archive consists of Obukhova’s personal archive and the archive of the Soros Center, which was transferred to APF as a non-monetary grant. In 2011 and 2012, the archive expands through the production and accumulation of new materials and thanks to donations from artists, gallerists, and art critics, including Elena Selina, Andrei Kovalev, Igor Makarevich, Milena Orlova, and Mikhail Fyodorov-Roshal. 2004 Art Projects Foundation is restructured with Obukhova as its head and focuses on maintaining the archive. First attempts are made at developing an electronic catalogue. A technical brief for the developer is written, but work on the program is postponed due to lack of funds. 2005 Art Projects Foundation and the archive have to leave the space in Lavrushinsky Lane. Most of the archive and library is put into storage, with part moving to Ekaterina Foundation, where APF organizes Informburo, a large-scale project for the 1st Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. The project will serve as a prototype for the future organization of the archive, which at the time cannot be implemented due to the lack of reliable funding. 2006 APF moves to a building at Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art. 2006 to 2008 APF receives regular support from Italian collector and arts patron Alberto Sandretti. 2007 Contemporary City Foundation holds a charity auction to support APF. With the proceeds, APF is able to pay rent for the two years and acquire new equipment to create better storage conditions for the documents. 2011 Garage Center for Contemporary Culture starts the negotiation process to acquire the APF archive. September 1, 2012 An agreement is signed that transfers the archive to Garage Center for Contemporary Culture. A Research Department is created at Garage, where the initial team include Sasha Obukhova, Anastasia Tarasova, and Zoya Katashinskaya. Sasha Obukhova in the Art Projects Foundation archive, 2011 Photo: Roman Mokrov
Obukhova Sasha | 6 April 2020
Monroe. How I fell in Love
Raya Lugamanova shares her experience of working on Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe’s archive, which was acquired by Garage in 2018. Starting a text is never easy, so to mitigate the suffering I have decided that what you read below will be a “here and now” meditation on my past few months of work. When I was invited to work with Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe’s archive, I laughed and recalled how a few months earlier, on my last day in St. Petersburg (the very last day of the four years I spent in the city) I went for a walk around Vasilievsky Island with my friend. We dropped in to the New Museum and the exhibition they were showing was The Lives of Remarkable Monroes. We talked about it for a long time and even considered buying a book about him, but in the end we didn’t. Later we headed to Smolenskoe Cemetery to look for film director Aleksei Balabanov’s grave. We were walking through the cemetery with only a rough idea of where to go, and suddenly I looked up and saw a strange sculpture staring at me. It was pretty eerie to tell you the truth. I read the inscription and it was Monroe. I don’t believe in signs, but I like to note coincidences. And Vladik [Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe] really liked that, too. In several interviews he talked about Pope John Paul II dying from suffocation at the time when Monroe was working on the Pope’s portrait for his StarZ series and wrapping his face in clingfilm. He also said he found out he might have a son from his one-time lover Evelina Arkhangelskaya when impersonating the actress Lyubov Orlova. A similar thing happens in one of Orlova’s films, Circus. That was mystical! And Mamyshev-Monroe loved anything mystical. Maybe it was boredom or lack of meaning, or maybe his “personal silliness” as he used to say, but he loved coincidences and talked a lot about signs and omens. You can find plenty of evidence among his personal items in the archive. I sorted them into several groups: spiritual artefacts (an Indian mandala and an icon made by a prisoner, which Monroe allegedly bought for 5 rubles at a railroad station); alien-related (eight toy heads of extraterrestrials) and carnival items (hare masks with huge rhinestones for eyes and earrings, a 1930s German magician’s kit). Туфли. Фонд Владислава Мамышева-Монро When I started working with the archive I had no special feelings for Monroe. I did not even particularly like his art. But he wrote good texts and funny poems, and as I’ve always loved the journalism of the 1990s I loved his KhVZ and M.V.Yu. magazines. When after months of digging through personal artefacts, photographs, and books I got to press clippings (Vladik collected every mention of himself), I finally understood what I both admired and hated about him. Who was Mamyshev-Monroe? I don’t know. Going through his archive you get the feeling that you’re just about to figure him out, just about to get a complete picture. But the further you fall into his writing and interviews, the more you start doubting what seemed obvious. We know that he did his military service at Baikonur Cosmodrome. There is a letter from his commanding officer to his mother, Nina Nikolaevna, in the archive. Many articles describe how he dressed as Marilyn Monroe during his military service, and when the officers found the photographs he ended up in a psychiatric hospital. But as you read more, you start to doubt even that. And you begin to feel that you are constantly hallucinating. Косметика. Фонд Владислава Мамышева-Монро This is a person who is like an empty vessel that fills with something new every day. Every day he has new passions and new opinions. Today he is afraid of getting old and dreams of immortality and tomorrow he will be impersonating the aging beauty Brigitte Bardot. Today he treats you as a friend and tomorrow he will say that you had charmed him, fooled him, and gone crazy, not without his help. The virtuosity with which he followed a chosen strategy was incredible. He gave interviews to whoever was willing to take them, wrote articles and sent them off to the press himself, but despite ample materials it is hard to see what kind of person he was. He invented intricate stories with mutually exclusive explanations that travelled from article to article. I think it’s a shame that artists rarely use this strategy today. Between the two extremes they choose silence, although mythmaking seems much more interesting. I admire how cleverly and effortlessly he invented details of various events to cover his traces. It occurred to me that the archive of press clippings was not simply a product of his narcissism (which for him was very natural) but also a tool to navigate the reality he had invented. However, that’s not certain (I could add this disclaimer to any sentence). As a researcher, I find it very annoying that whichever item or text I look at, I can’t say anything about it for sure. I conduct all this research, but in the end I’m left with countless versions of who, what, and why and no certainty about any of my hypotheses being correct. Духи. Фонд Владислава Мамышева-Монро You can never trust Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe because he was deliberately and fundamentally impermanent. But he was consistent in his practice and his transformations never put him at risk of losing face. After sorting around 300 (!) photographs of Marilyn Monroe clipped from magazines, books, albums, and calendars, I can imagine how carefully he prepared his transformations, which were more like spiritualist seances. To me, his album devoted to the death of Norma Jean represents the peak of this maniacal obsessiveness, but for him it marked its beginning. A thick leather-bound notebook contains photographs, articles, poems, songs, and even prayers. My admiration for such dedication was gradually gave way to horror. But, as gallerist Elena Selina said at the launch of the website devoted to Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe at Cosmoscow art fair in 2019, “Garage Archive now has a special person working on Vladik’s archive. She’s in a pickle. Because once Vladik comes into your life he will never let you go.” Looks like I’m in a pickle and Vladik will be with me for a while.
Lugamanova Raya | 2 April 2020
Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia since 2000
This long-term research program initiated by Garage Research in 2015 explores developments in self-organized artistic and curatorial practices in Russia since 2000. The program was launched with the exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2015 (November 6-December 10, 2015) initiated by the Head of Garage Archive Collection, Sasha Obukhova. The exhibition presented an overview of fifty-one projects from nine Russian cities, including apartment exhibitions and artist-run spaces, exhibitions in abandoned factories, and street festivals. The project also included four public debates with artists, curators, art historians and activists. Hearing the views of pioneering practitioners allowed the researchers to get a clearer understanding of practitioners’ ideas regarding art institutions and the limitations of the art world, including the (lack of) flexibility of contemporary museums and the art market. Alexei Kallima, list of events at France gallery (Moscow), 2015 Reflecting the growing autonomy of emerging artists, many of the projects-independent from both state-run and private institutions-have not been archived and often escape the notice of contemporary researchers. Even in the age of the Internet and social media, only a scattered, or fragmented trace of many of the initiatives remain, with dates and names of participants often missing. Open Systems was thus conceived as a comprehensive study to facilitate the accumulation and archiving of information on each project, its organizers, and participants, as well as photo and video documentation and ephemera. Unique documents accumulated during the exhibition include photo archives of Kirill Preobrazhensky's apartment gallery Cheryomushki and Timofey Karaffa-Korbut’s gallery ArtRaum, a notebook containing the list of exhibitions in France Gallery, handwritten by Alexey Kalyma, video documentation of Liza Morozova’s performances in Escape Gallery, exhibition posters form Samara gallery XI rooms, and an ABC Gallery’s signboard made from an office lamp. Another important aspect of the project has been to explore the stylistic and regional variations in self-organized initiatives. The selected initiatives have been subdivided into four categories: Private Spaces, devoted to artists who host initiatives in their apartments or studios; Other Places examines projects in abandoned or rented spaces; No Man’s Land focuses on street festivals and other projects in public spaces, including the Internet; and Borderline Territories explores various forms of interaction between artists, independent curators and activists that do not necessarily use space as their primary venue, but instead discourse, or publications, for example. XI rooms Gallery (Samara). Poster for Found object exhibition, 2008 The project has enabled Garage Archive to develop ties with initiatives across the country, which in its turn has led to the growth of the project itself. From Spring 2016 the exhibition has travelled across Russia, expanding in content through the participation of each host venue, which has invited new initiatives. The Urals branch of the National Center for Contemporary Arts introduced groups from Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Tagil and Perm. The branch’s director, Alisa Prudnikova, and curators Vladimir Seleznev and Anna Litovskikh initiated a new exhibition, which opened at the NCCA Urals on 24 March 2016. The public program for the exhibition included lectures by Obukhova and the philosopher Elena Petrovskaya, as well as a performance by one of the founders of Office Gallery and ABC Gallery, Maxim Iluykhin. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2015, installation view, the National Center for Contemporary Art in the Urals, Ekaterinburg, 2016 © Petr Zakharov, Next, a collaboration with the Typography Center for Contemporary Art in Krasnodar, focused on the south of Russia and attracted new participants from Rostov-on-Don, Taganrog, Vladikavkaz and Sochi. The exhibition project took place from 16 June till 17 July2016 and included a discussion on the future of self-organized initiatives in Russia. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2015, installation view, Typography Center for Contemporary Art, Krasnodar, 2016 © Elena Sineok, From 1 September till 30 October 2016 Open Systems took place in Krasnoyarsk Museum Center. This introduced independent art initiatives from Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Barnaul, and Novosibirsk. This part of the project also included a program of workshops for Krasnoyarsk emerging artists: with a curator’s guidance, they sought to recreate various practices of the artists featured in Open Systems. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2015, installation view, Krasnoyarsk Museum Center, Krasnoyarsk, 2016 © Lera Tynianaya, Krasnoyarsk Museum Center The next show within the project opened at Samara’s Viktoria Gallery on December 16, 2016. Bringing together the archives of sixty self-organized initiatives, previously collected as part of Open Systems, it also featured an exhibition of contemporary Samara art curated by Anastasia Albokrinova. The exposition focused on emerging artists whose practice began at various self-organizations in Samara and, as such, became the gallery’s first exhibition focusing on local artists. The self-organized initiative Arctic Art Institute launched Open Systems in cooperation with the Arkhangelsk regional science library named after N. Dobrolyubov-where the show took place in August 2017 representing for the first time art initiatives of Russia’s Northern cities, including Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. Displaying the project in a library attracted a wider audience to it. This version of Open Systems also included a discussion involving a number of local cultural promoters. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2017, installation view, the Arkhangelsk regional science library named after N. Dobrolyubov, Arkhangelsk, 2017 © the Arkhangelsk regional science library named after N. Dobrolyubov The Saratov iteration of the project took place at the most unconventional among all of its venues-the stairs of the nineteenth-century building of the House of Cultural Workers. Spanning three floors, this space is traditionally occupied by exhibitions run by the self-organized IMHO Gallery. Encouraged by this peaceful, mutually enriching and usually hard to establish neighborship, the curators extended the show for several weeks, as it eventually ran from October 2017 through January 2018. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2017, installation view, IMHO Gallery, Saratov, 2017 © IMHO Gallery In May 2018, Smena Center of Contemporary Culture invited the project to Kazan. The enormous building of the Center-in fact, also a self-organized artist-led initiative-hosts lectures and concerts as well as contemporary art shows. Artefacts documenting Kazan’s self-organized events were displayed alongside the Open Systems archive. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2018, installation view, Smena Center of Contemporary Culture, Kazan, 2018 © IMHO Gallery Open Systems made its last stop in July 2018 at Vladivostok’s ARTETAGE Modern Art Museum, where the most complete version of the project embracing initiatives from all over the Primosrky Region was shown. Music band Far Eastern Home Wreckers gave a concert at the opening, while the public program accompanying the exhibition featured reading groups based around some key texts about self-organizations. The exhibition Open Systems. Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000-2018, installation view, ARTETAGE Modern Art Museum, Vladivostok, 2018 © Evgeniya Kоkurina Exhibitions and research programs accompanying them supplemented the project with new initiatives. The up to date (albeit not final) list of self-organized initiatives is provided below, with work on a publication about the study currently underway. List of Participants to date: 0+ Creative Space (St. Petersburg), XI Rooms Gallery (Samara), 11 Kropotkin str. Center (St. Petersburg), 39 Gallery (Moscow), 4.413 studio (St. Petersburg), Agency of Singular Investigations, ASI (Moscow), Agile Gallery (St. Petersburg), APXIV (Moscow), Arctic Art Institute (Arkhangelsk), APPENDIX Studio (Moscow), Art Angelsk (Arkhangelsk), #artbox (Yakutsk), ABC Gallery (Moscow), ars boiler room (Tomsk), Art-Commune (Tolyatti), Art-Propaganda Creative Laboratory (Yurga), ArtRaum Project (Moscow), Belka&Strelka Fluxrus Gallery (Taganrog), Black Lake (Kazan), Black&White Gallery (Kazan), Bobby Gallery (St. Petersburg), Brown Stripe Gallery (Moscow), Bystrovka Project (Krasnoyarsk), Ch9 Gallery (Murmansk), Cheremushki Apartment Gallery (Moscow), Chicory (Zheleznogorsk), Cultural Transit Foundation (Ekaterinburg), D-9 Creative Studio (Barnaul), Day Pyat Studio (Voronezh), Dom Gruzchika Laboratory for Contemporary Art (Perm), Egg Cultural Center (Nizhny Tagil), Egorka (St. Petersburg), Elektrozavod Gallery (Moscow), Escape Gallery (Moscow), FFTN Gallery (St. Petersburg), Flag v ruki (Krasnoyarsk), France Gallery (Moscow), Gallery1 (Nizhny Novgorod), Gallery for One Viewer (Moscow), Gallery of One Work (Samara), GBI Gallery (Ekaterinburg), GOVNO Gallery (Kaliningrad), Grischenko Garage (Novosibirsk), Youth Festival of Independent Art ‘Go! Where Do You Go?’ (Moscow), Hitting the Bottom (Novosibirsk), Holodno (Novosibirsk), HU gallery (Nizhny Tagil), Ice Biennale (Samara), Ikra Center for Contemporary Culture (Irkutsk), Intimnoe Mesto Space (St. Petersburg), IMHO Gallery (Saratov), The Kitchen Apartment Gallery (Rostov-on_Don), The Kitchen Women’s Art Workshops (Moscow), Korobka Center of Everything (Vladivostok), Krasnodar Institute for Contemporary Art (Krasnodar), Kubiva Gallery (Nizhny Tagil), Left Leg Gallery (Omsk), Leto Group Festivals (Moscow), Longdistancegallery, Luch Project (Moscow), Luda Gallery (St. Petersburg), MediaImpact: International Festival of Activist Art (Moscow), Mixed Forest Festival (Saratov), Monstration (Novosibirsk), MOZHET! Festival for contemporary art (Krasnodar), Narodnaya Gallery (Nizhny Tagil), Nepokorennie Open Studio (St. Petersburg), Nepravilny prikus (Simferopol Crimea),n i i c h e g o d e l a t (St. Petersburg), Noga Action Center (Ekaterinburg), North-7 Base — Kunsthalle Nummer Sieben (St. Petersburg), Exhibition Projects at Occupy Abay Camp (Moscow), Office Gallery (Moscow), OkNo Gallery (Chelyabinsk), Original Typography (Moscow), Parazit Gallery (St. Petersburg), Phantom Exhibition (St. Petersburg), Portal Creative Laboratory (Vladikavkaz), Praxis Alternative Cultural Project (Sochi), Private Property Gallery (Moscow), Pushka (Krasnoyarsk), Pusto Festival (Moscow), Random Gallery (Moscow), Reality Raum Residenz Online Reality Show, Red Artist-Run Space (Moscow), Red Square Gallery (Moscow), Rosa's House of Culture (St. Petersburg), ШШШ (Shshshgirls) (Moscow), Skot Gallery (Nizhny Tagil), Smena (St. Petersburg), Smena (Kazan), Soma/2Soma (Novosibirsk), Subjects (Arkhangelsk), Svetlana Gallery (Moscow), Triangle Curatorial Studio (Moscow), Turnichki Laboratory for Contemporary Art (Rostov-On-Don), Vata Gallery (Rostov-On-Don), Vladivostok School of Contemporary Art, VSCA (Vladivostok), vNore (Tolyatti), Voronezh Center for Contemporary Art, VCCA (Voronezh), White Cube Gallery (Novosibirsk), Yama Gallery (Krasnodar), ZHIR Gallery (Moscow)
Trubitsyna Antonina | 15 July 2019
“We are totally fine!” Interviews with quarantined self-organizations
Watching how art institutions closed their doors for the quarantine made me wonder what happens to self-organizations in this situation. I questioned participants, trying to embrace as many of them based in different Russian cities as possible. This material is not a large-scale, comprehensive study. Its importance for Garage Archive and Open Systems lies in it being a model cast from the current condition. Studio 4413, St. Petersburg Vanya Shatravin: The Studio closed down of course, for the quarantine, and I went to Tuapse and encourage everyone to come here, come! Maria Dmitrieva: We are quarantined, of course. It is too early to estimate the “effect”: many of us are glad to take a forced pause. From a long-term perspective, however, we will be switching to online regimes and hybrid formats. NONSNS, Moscow Ruslan Polanin: We keep a lot of stuff online, but generally it affected us. Although it is hard to judge. In short, it did not affect the moral spirit, or creativity, and even not so much our strategies: from the very beginning we did a lot of things aimed at the intervention into real life rather than at some special displays in art pennages. The only problem is that because of the quarantine all of Gosha’s shooting sessions have been canceled, Masha was sent to work from home with salary provided, but all of our additional book projects are frozen. To sum things up, we currently risk losing the studio. APXIV, Moscow Olga Klimovitskaya: Obviously, it altered our plans, just like the plans of others. We cancelled a trip to London (in April), where the exhibition has been moved indefinitely. Our activity within the factory workshops has also been put on pause for a while. We have been practicing online communication since the beginning. There are many of us, so it can be problematic to get together. Some of our members live in Europe. We often make calls via Facebook, and our little chatroom, even despite being cursed, is actually our main means of communication and discussion. We feel ok about the quarantine, like many introvert artists. We keep on working, because the project that we submitted to the Center for Creative Industries Fabrika was initially conceived as virtual. Danya Orlovsky: Since we left the NIIDAR space and until we received a studio at Fabrika, we operated without a space for six months or so. I mean, we not only had no venue for exhibitions and events, but also could not organize any meetings, which is the key element of our practice. We partly compensated for this with the opportunity to meet in apartments, but since everyone lives in different parts of the city, communication mainly took place via the Internet, as if we had been rehearsing today’s situation. But once we thought that our gypsy lifestyle had come to an end and we would finally settle down at Fabrika, as normal people, boom, here goes the pandemic and quarantine! Our experience of existence without a physical space instigated expansion into the digital realm. The virus situation closed access to the outer world for everyone, this is why we see how social life is being rapidly digitalized, meaning our forced practice suddenly becomes a common norm. What is new to us is that, even though we are used to communicating online, most of our events are organized primarily in reality and are based around live interaction with the audience. This lack of “warm” communication needs to be reflected somehow. But there is a feeling that the virus simply accelerated all the “life-digitalizing” processes dramatically, which had been taking place recently on their own. SHSHSH, Moscow Viktoria Chupakhina: We keep on thinking about our experiments [shows], they are just slightly postponed… It is likely that our collaboration with artists from Rotterdam and a few photo shoots will be cancelled. We began thinking about transferring communication online and will make a conference call to discuss a new project later today. DK Rozy, St. Petersburg Natalia Rybalko: The School of Engaged Art, DK Rozy’s main resident, switched to online mode. And this semester, the school is financed by a grant from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, meaning we have to report every lecture that has been given as well as overall attendance. Accordingly, we had to decide how to deliver reports in the new circumstances and how speakers can read online lectures so that we actually have something to report. Many speakers had technical problems: not all of them know the necessary programs, and we have to make quality recordings. The loss of interactive formats is also a pity, because asking questions and making comments is not so convenient online. Good that we have sorted out the rent. In April, Sasha Shestakova had planned to visit us from Moscow as part of the school’s program-the trip had to be cancelled. The show they planned to do will most likely be held online. DK, meanwhile, is not on full-time quarantine: workshops remain open at their discretion, but most of them preferred to pause the work. The suspension of public events and workshops doesn’t earn us any donations. And donations are something that helps the self-organized group which includes me and Anya, to cover some expenses, such as travel. So, this is how things are now. Anna Averyanova: To cut a long story short, we, as a group of self-orgs, recommended DK to cancel workshops at their discretion if it is possible, even though its practical classes form the very counter-cultural program we are so proud of, so we are hopeful that it won’t last long. As for the school, we switched to the online lecture and Zoom conference format. Public events have been cancelled by the organizers. Next is putting together a schedule of April’s events, we will have to come up with some ideas. The exhibition program and preparation for DK Rozy’s fifth anniversary are the most intriguing plans, as we thought about putting up a group show. Actually, within our self-organization’s group, we previously discussed the strategy of translocality and the exploration of DK Rozy beyond the physical space of its rooms at the Krasnoe Znamya plant. Now it has acquired an even narrower optics, but remains interesting: where DK Rozy is located when it takes root. I am hopeful that the rewritten topology can solve the problem of capitalist flows-through the possibility of bypassing the authority imposed through their management. At least it is possible to stop appealing to the local space for offline meetings as a sufficient basic element that ensures the survival of collectivity. And at the same time, new circumstances emphasize the issue of invisible (post)labor and taking care of the place. As DK Rozys resident Mikhail Fedorchenko noticed, coronavirus acts as our global accelerationist today. Egorka, St. Petersburg Anna Tereshkina: We do not run any public events now. The last one took place on March 14, and even back then we hesitated whether we should do it. But we constantly discuss the nearest (desired) projects. Nastya Makarenko: We planned an Olga (Tsaplya) Egorova show, but due to the current situation, want to try to make it online. However, we haven’t worked online so far, except for Skype sessions with curators maybe, because Anya is currently away to a residency in Kolomna. Pushka, Krasnoyarsk Oksana Budulak: Self-isolation did not affect self-organizations at all. Yes, we talked about it in the Pushka chat as we worried that the venue (KOiKA barbershop) will cancel the agreement. But since it is a private business, they continue to run events and do not close their doors because of the quarantine. The event scheduled for March 22 took place according to plan. Fewer visitors turned up-but on the other hand. we had a lot of new artists. Pushka has been invited to a new club space, the opening coincided with the quarantine but they still plan to do it. Summing up, emerging Krasnoyarsk based artists are not afraid of anything yet, drink beer, think of exhibits, go to bars, hug each other and wipe themselves with antiseptics. After week one of self-isolation, they self-organized themselves even more and made a coloring book. Either we are too bold, or art makes us superhumans. OkNO, Chelyabinsk Svetlana Shlyapnikova: We are totally fine! We had been preparing a technology-based project for our 19th birthday, so we managed to reconstruct our work process and opened on the planned day, even though as an online project. We have launched a publication of the gallery’s chronicle. The first publication was uploaded yesterday. It is hard to comment what’s “next”. Our next project is also technology related, it involves an artist who does experimental cinema. Perhaps, we will do something in that direction, for example, video screenings. But we haven’t discussed it yet. Elektrozavod, Moscow Elektrozavod team: Obviously, the situation affected us just as any other public space. We had a scheduled show by the Taiwanese media artist happykawaiifriends This Is Not A Starfish (這不是一隻海星). We ran the first part of the show on March 20, pretty painlessly, in the form of broadcasts on the gallery’s Facebook and Instagram pages. In his works, happykawaiifriends works with the context of social networks, investigates the influence of mass media on society, and people’s self-perception. As you can see, a show in the broadcast format emphasizes the artist’s creative method rather than contradicting it. Up next is an interview with an artist who is also quarantined, so we consider different broadcast modes from the site-in order to diversify our events. Planning exhibitions further ahead is problematic. The next couple of shows have been moved indefinitely at their authors’ request. They are not ready to exhibit online without the audience. Another planned event will take place online. The artist is currently rebuilding the show for a broadcast. Rostan Tavasiev’s exhibition/conference Designing Planetary Nebulae dedicated to the search for a place for art and artists in outer space is due to open on April 22. There are also several projects which can be broadcast online but haven’t been approved by the gallery’s collective. As we do not know how long the situation is going to last, we are thinking about transferring the gallery’s activity to the Internet. The financial side of running the space is also critical as never before. Vladivostok School of Contemporary Art, Vladivostok Yana Gaponenko: Vladivostok School of Contemporary Art’s spring curators’ school caught the last train prior to self-isolation, by a whisker. We managed to bring together fourteen cultural workers from Omsk, Barnaul, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Tomsk, and Yakutsk in our space and “make some noise” in situ. It is very important for us to get together online, because a large part of the program was initially composed of Skype lectures. Now we are awaiting this fall’s curatorial school to gather as members of a new team. FFTN, St. Petersburg Irina Aksenova: We have been forced to cancel everything we planned for the end of March and for April, that is five projects, plus a major project in Krasnodar. Some international and cross-city initiatives have also been called off: a Danish artist was supposed to visit us in June, another guy from Lipetsk in the summer. We are under quarantine like everyone else. First of all, I think it is important to comply with the quarantine rules, and our space is too compact, it is hard to circulate around it. Attendance had also decreased significantly, so it didn’t really make much sense. I am hopeful that we will be returning at the end of April but it all depends on the overall course of the pandemic. It is good that we have few external commitments and all our partners responded positively to the projects being postponed. Typography, Krasnodar Elena Ischenko: We had to postpone all events-exhibitions, talks, some field trips. We accept it like a well-deserved holiday: we did a good job, opened the space, so now we can take a break and there is no need to rush. We were granted rental holidays for the duration of the quarantine (our landlord produces disinfectants and antiseptics so his business is not going to suffer). But the problem is how to pay salaries now, as we usually earn this money by renting out the space and selling exhibition tickets. Honestly speaking, we haven’t thought globally about how to do it yet, because nobody knows when this will end. Art Critics Circle, Yekaterinburg Anna Litovskih: We chat all the time these days and feel closer to each other. We had a reading group in the Piotrovsky bookshop that was cancelled because the Yeltsin Center closed. At the same time, it is easier to make Zoom calls now, when everyone stays at home, more or less without any plans. Anya Ustyakina launched a diary channel dedicated to the life of the workshop’s circle of people during the quarantine. Nadya Rastriga wrote yesterday that the increasing amount of unread messages in the circle makes her feel uncomfortable and suggested switching to slow mode. Everyone agreed calmly, so now we have limited people’s messages to one per minute. I think, with the feeling of emptiness from constant rush and socialization, the circle turned into such a system of support for all of us, where we discuss who cooks what and share links all the time. We have recently watched a performance via an online chat and discussed it all together. We also had a conference call on Friday and started writing a manifesto, because previously, we tried twice to write a text collectively (for and the Kuryokhin Award), and both were very nice and successful. So we would like to come up with more collective texts in the future. In short, everything is fine, but we wish very much to meet in person, hug and sit around the same table soon. Alexandr Pachin Vrachi Prileteli (The Docs Have Come), 2017. Photo by Renat Latyshev. Courtesy by Levaya Noga (Left Leg), Omsk. Levaya Noga (Left Leg), Omsk Kira Gazova: We still have a busy exhibition schedule in the Levaya Noga space, and there are no good excuses for not attending them. The only reason can be the person’s literal death. If you are sick they should bring you on the stretcher ☺ One of our group shows, Grachi Nogoy (The Rooks with the Leg) inspired by the painting The Rooks Have Come by Savrasov, featured an installation named Vrachi Prileteli (The Docs Have Come) and, responding to the question “Why do they heal the right leg, not left?”, he replied “Cuz the left one is fine!” ☺ I wish you creative success and good health! ☺ Antonina Trubitsyna, senior archivist at Garage, curator of the project Open Systems
Trubitsyna Antonina | 1 April 2020
Documents on the history of Soviet non-conformist art in the archive of The Research Centre for East European Studies
Personal archives of non-conformist artists that make up part of Samizdat Manuscripts and Papers Collection of The Research Centre for East European Studies reflect the heterogeneity of the underground art scene in the Soviet Union and reveal the connections and intersections that developed between art and literature under the regime of state censorship, which cannot be fully understood outside of the political context of the era. In the 1940s, poet Nikolay Glazkov produced a self-published collection of poems illustrated with drawings and collages and which, to imitate “real” books, had a colophon saying that it was released by “Samsebyaizdat” [“Myself by Myself Publishers"]. This is believed to have been the beginning of samizdat. Whether that was true or not, Glazkov’s publication marked the rise of the first generation of non-conformist poets who sought self-expression beyond the limitations set by the state. Nikolay Glazkov’s self-published book and similar works have been preserved in the archives of Albert Rusanov and Yury Abyzov. In the 1950s, samizdat became a default cultural and lifestyle choice for the poets and artists of Lianozovo Group, including Vsevolod Nekrasov, Genirkh Sapgir, and Igor Kholin. In their works and methods, it is easy to see similarities with the Western cultural scene-similarities that had seemed unthinkable in the first years after the Iron Curtain separated Soviet culture from the West. Early poetry collections, correspondence, photographs, audio and video recordings of the time offer insight into the group’s cultural scene and the way their contemporaries received experimental poetry-blank verse, concrete poetry and even graphic art. The archive of artist Anatoly Brusilovsky containing his correspondence with artists, poets, and publishers, offers another opportunity to take a closer look at the Soviet non-conformist art of the 1950s to the 1970s. Sabine Hansgen’s archive is focused on the Moscow underground art scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Created in the early 1980s, the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI) offers access to works by some of the key artists of Moscow non-conformist art, and in particular Moscow conceptualism, including Ilya Kabakov, Nikita Alekseev, and Andrei Monastyrsky. The archive also features several photographic series documenting performances and happenings organized by the artists. The Research Centre’s collection also features samizdat publications produced outside of Moscow and Leningrad. Some of the most interesting items in the archive include thirty-six issues of Transponans, a literary journal with a circulation of five copies published in Yeysk by the Sea of Azov throughout the 1980s. The format of the periodical continuously evolved-often within one issue-but each copy, containing texts, original drawings, and photographs, is a work of art in its own right. The Transponans archive was donated to the Research Centre by its editors and publishers Ry Nikonova and Sergey Sigey. Another key archive in the Centre’s collection is Boris Birger’s personal archive that contains his early sketches, drawings, and paintings as well as manuscripts, notes, handmade masks and dolls, a great number of photographs, and correspondence dating back to the pre-war years. The Centre continues to study alternative art and cultural movements and contemporary practices similar to samizdat. [Sources include Gasan Gusejnov’s article: Unabhangige Kultur. //UdSSR/Russland. Das Archiv der Forschungsstelle Osteuropa. Bestande im Uberblick: UdSSR/Russland, Polen, Tschechoslowakei, Ungarn und DDR. Hg. Wolfgang Eichwede. Ibidem-Verlag. Stuttgart, 2009. P. 29.]
4 February 2019
Maria Klassen on her work at the archive of the Research Center for East European Studies, University of Bremen
Lev Kopelev and Raisa Orlova. Photo: Maira Klassen. First flight to Moscow since involuntary emigration. April 7, 1989. Research Center for East European Studies, University of Bremen My father was born in a German settlement in Ukraine. My mother was from Lviv. They met in Yakutia-both had been sent there as “enemies of the people.” After Stalin’s death my father found his mother through the Red Cross. She lived in Karaganda and that’s where he moved with my mother in 1954. I was born there. We had relatives in Germany and Canada, who had emigrated before the war. We could not keep in touch with them during the Stalinist repressions, but with the Khrushchev Thaw contact resumed. In 1956, my father first applied for permission to leave the country in order to rejoin the family in Germany. Of course, they did not let us go. During the two decades that followed, he kept trying to leave the Soviet Union. This came at a cost: he was threatened and humiliated at work and I was bullied as a student. I had a strange childhood. We lived in the middle of the Kazakh steppe and my mother would tell me about the beautiful European city of Lviv with chestnuts in bloom and baroque churches. Meanwhile, my father would recall his childhood in the German settlement, with its cultural traditions, a local choir and orchestra, and his family’s huge private library. But I lived in the Soviet present, and my schoolteacher-a militant Stalin supporter-would tell me that my parents’ generation were young communists that came to Kazakhstan to cultivate virgin soil or mine coal in Magnitogorsk. My father spent nights by the radio, listening to Deutsche Welle in his headphones. He was interested in the protection of human rights. My mother was a Catholic and she was interested in religious news, so she would listen to Radio Vatican. As I grew up, I started listening to the BBC, Radio Liberty, and Voice of America. I listened to jazz, rock-n-roll, and programs about contemporary painting, theater, and cinema. And so we passed on the headphones: father would listen to programs on politics, mom to religious news, and I listened to rock music. I also learned about the “Bulldozer Exhibition” from those “enemy voices,” as they called them. It was only in the mid-1970s, thanks to the so-called eastern treaties signed by Leonid Brezhnev and Willy Brandt, we were allowed to move to West Germany. For me, everything in the West was interesting. I guess it was due to those years in which there was no access to information. I was especially interested in the lives of Soviet nonconformist artists-I knew about them from the same “enemy voices.” Some of the artists were already living in the West. A number of European art historians and Slavic scholars brought their paintings to the West and organized exhibitions for them. With every visit to such exhibitions I discovered a few new names. I was lucky to meet many artists, writers, and theater people from the Russian diaspora over the years that followed. At university I had four semesters of art history, but I was studying documentary film. After graduating I worked as a freelance at West German television in Cologne, where I was an expert on Eastern Europe. I had heard about Lev Kopelev before we moved to Germany. In 1975, he published the book To Be Preserved Forever and excerpts were read on Radio Liberty. I became interested in this man and his life. Towards the end of the 1970s, Heinrich Boll often spoke in defense of Russian dissident writers and I distinctly remember him saying, “My friend Lev Kopelev is in danger. They broke windows in his apartment; his phone was tapped and is now completely off. I cannot get through to him!” In November 1980, Kopelev was allowed to leave the Soviet Union. He and his wife came to stay with Boll in Cologne. In January 1981 they lost their Soviet citizenship. As resident of Cologne, Kopelev gave regular readings at literary evenings and meetings with students that I attended. He started a research project on the history of Russia-Germany relations-mutual understanding, images of friends and enemies-that came to be known as the Wuppertal Project (at the University of Wuppertal). I could really relate to that: in Karaganda, I was a German and was sometimes even called a fascist, but when we moved to Germany, I realized people always saw me as a Russian. Just asin the Soviet Union we did not know who we were, where we came from, and why we ended up in Kazakhstan, in Germany we still did not know who we were and why we had come. And then I see Kopelev announcing this project and saying that we should not politicize the relationship between Russian and German cultures, but we need to understand how they developed throughout history to overcome the hostility between them. So I came up to him at one of those literary evenings and told him I was going to make my graduation film on that topic. That’s how we met. When he found out that I was working in television as a freelance, which meant no regular work, he asked me if I would like to become his personal archivist, and as he had agreed to bequeath his collection to the Research Center for East European Studies in Bremen. In 1989, the Center’s founder and director Wolfgang Eichwede offered me a contract, which was later renewed several times. Журнал “Транспонанс” Сергея Сигея и Ры Никоновой. Архив Сергея Сигея и Анны Таршис. Исследовательский центр Восточной Европы при Бременском университете, Германия The archive of Lev Kopelev and Raisa Orlova is extraordinarily rich. Orlova studied American culture and was part of the editorial team at the journal Inostrannaya literatura [Foreign Literature]. In the 1940s, she maintained a correspondence with Lillian Hellman, met her in Moscow, and translated her works. She had her own Anglo-American circle, and Kopelev had his German one. Their flat in Cologne-the rooms, the corridors, the kitchen-was crammed with bookshelves and files. Working with their archive, I discovered a whole new world. It was like a mosaic that connected lives and events, time and space, and completed my idea of the scene I was interested in. Kopelev’s school was the best gift I could have been given. It taught me that we don’t need to narrow ourselves down to the constraints of our profession, that knowledge has no boundaries. When Kopelev passed away, I was among the executors of his will and transferred his archive to the University of Bremen according to his wishes. Then it seemed that episode in my life was over. “Граждане!..” / “Обращения Дмитрия Александровича Пригова к народу”. Из архива Бориса Гройса и Натальи Никитиной. Исследовательский центр Восточной Европы при Бременском университете, Германия Years later, a woman who worked at the Research Center for East European Studies approached me at a conference on Boll and Kopelev that I helped organize and suggested that I apply for the position of archivist, which was then open. I agreed, although I had no qualification to work in an archive and had some doubts. That said, the documents in the archive were the very matter I had studied with Kopelev and dealt with at the TV station. I knew many people whose collections were included in the archive and the opportunity to share my knowledge of the subject, to provide commentary and context for those documents, was too tempting to turn down. So, in 2012, I suddenly found myself heading the Russian section of the archive at the Research Center for East European Studies, which had previously been led by Gabriel Superfin and Galina Potapova. I cannot forget the huge responsibility that comes with this job. Since it was founded, the Center has accumulated a huge number of priceless archival materials. Today, our work is focused on classification and cataloguing of the archives and creating a clear and user-friendly structure. Materials relating to Soviet nonconformist art can be found in the archives of Sergei Sigov and Anna Tarshis, Boris Groys and Natalia Nikitin, Igor Golomshtok, Eduard Gorokhovsky, Henri Volokhonsky, Karl Eimermacher, and many other curators, poets, writers, and human rights activists. Materials from the Research Center for East European Studies archive collection are scheduled to become available online from 2019.
Klassen Olga-Maria | 24 January 2019
Alla Rosenfeld on the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection and the Zimmerli Art Museum
I developed an interest in art at an early age. I attended a specialist art high school and then moved on to the Serov Leningrad Art College (now St. Petersburg Art School) to study applied drawing. I worked as a graphic designer for a while. Later, I studied art history at Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and when I moved to the United States in 1987 I became a graduate student at The City University of New York. There I had a chance to learn from well-known teachers, including Robert Storr who was a curator at MoMA, and I wrote my thesis under Rose-Carol Washton Long, who had written a book on Kandinsky. My thesis was on children’s books illustrated by avant-garde artists in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1991, I was working at IBM Gallery of Science and Art and a colleague invited me to an exhibition of Russian art from Yury Ryabov’s collection at the Zimmerli Art Museum. I told her I’d go, although I actually thought it was a bit far to travel! I worked in Manhattan and the exhibition was in New Jersey-that’s an hour by train. So I felt like I was going to the middle of nowhere. What kind of museum would they have in a quiet place like that, anyway? But I went to the opening and I was pleasantly surprised by the exhibition and the museum’s collection. The Zimmerli Museum used to be famous for its collection of French drawing of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For me, it was a curious, almost karmic connection: when I was writing my dissertation on French drawing in Leningrad, I visited the Hermitage library to read books written by the director of this museum! I met the museum’s director and curators. They had just received Yury Ryabov’s collection as a gift and told me they were looking for an expert to start working with it. I decided to give it a try, but I never thought I’d stay as long as I did: I was their curator of Russian Art for almost fifteen years, from 1992 to 2006. At first I was busy working on Ryabov’s collection, which had some wonderful examples of Russian set design from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Then, in 1992, we acquired Norton Dodge’s collection and the Zimmerli became the owner of the biggest collection of Russian art outside Russia. Dennis Cate realized there was no point in trying to compete with the Metropolitan Museum of Art or MoMA-a museum needed to have something nobody else had. He saw that Dodge’s collection was truly unique and that people from other countries would come to work with it. Alla Rosenfeld In fact, Dodge transferred his collection to the Zimmerli thanks to Ryabov, who introduced him to the museum’s director, Phillip Dennis Cate. Dodge was already set on transferring his collection to a university-based museum. He knew it meant that the collection would be studied by researchers, and students would use it to write their dissertations and theses. As far as I know, Norton Dodge offered his collection to several institutions, but they were only interested in particular artists and works. Nobody wanted to accept the entire collection. Dennis Cate realized there was no point in trying to compete with the Metropolitan Museum of Art or MoMA-a museum needed to have something nobody else had. He saw that Dodge’s collection was truly unique and that people from other countries would come to work with it. So they agreed and Norton transferred his collection to the museum. Later, Dodge and the Avenir Foundation financed the addition of a new wing to the museum’s building, so the collection got something like a separate home. Today, the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection is what the museum is famous for. Norton Dodge collected art until his the end of his life. He had no children, so the collection became his child. His choices were not limited to what he personally liked and his acquisitions were very diverse. The collection is sometimes criticized for this, but he managed to preserve so much of the unofficial culture of the postwar Soviet Union. I believe the collection’s diversity is actually an advantage: any historian studying Russian art of the second half of the twentieth century will find here something related to their research. If you are looking into conceptualism or Sots Art, the best works are in this collection, and if you are studying, say, hyperrealism, you might also discover something important. There is also a wide geographical spread. So you will not only find art from Moscow and Leningrad, but also from the Baltic States, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia. As for Zimmerli’s archive, I was involved in its creation. I started discussing this with Dodge very early on, as soon as we began cataloguing the collection in the mid-1990s. I convinced him to try to add documents to his collection of art. He supported the idea and the first person I met about that was Igor Shelkovsky, the editor of A-Ya, which was a journal devoted to Soviet nonconformist art. I believed it was very important to get his archive, as Igor made sure the journal wrote about some of the key artists of the time. And Norton bought the archive. Then we got a collection of documents from St. Petersburg. I was in touch with Sergei Kovalsky, one of the founders of the art center Pushkinskaya 10, and we discussed the transfer of the archive of the Association for Experimental Fine Arts. It’s a vast collection with many interesting items. Later Dodge bought more archives using his connections in the art world. He acquired the archive of Lev Katsenelson, a big collector from Leningrad, and then a complete archive of the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI). I always wanted the Zimmerli to collect as much research material as possible-that was my main priority. At the moment access to those materials is limited. It would be great if they became accessible to the public. Dr. Alla Rosenfeld is an art historian, curator and teacher. She received her degree in the theory and history of art at the Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad, Russia, in 1987, and her Ph.D. in modern and contemporary European and American art at the City University of New York, in 2003. She was Senior Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University from 1992 to 2006, and also served as Director of the Zimmerli’s Russian Art Department. From 2006 to 2009, she worked as Vice President and Senior Specialist in the Russian Paintings Department at Sotheby’s in New York. In May 2017 she was appointed Curator of Russian and European Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. Her independent curatorial projects include Leningrad Nonconformist Art (Meyerhoff Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, 2003); World of Stage: Russian Costume and Stage Design (Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, Fairfield University, Connecticut, 2004) and Soviet Dis-Union: Socialist Realist and Nonconformist Art (co-curator; The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, 2006). From 1996 to 2017, Dr. Rosenfeld taught various courses on Russian art and culture at Rutgers University. She has published many articles and several books on Russian art, including From Gulag to Glasnost: Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union (1995), Moscow Conceptualism in Context (2011) and Twentieth Century Artists from the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union Working in France, A Biographical Dictionary. Volume I (2017). Dr. Rosenfeld has been a member of the International Jury for the Kandinsky Prize in Moscow since 2009. Materials from the Zimmerli Art Museum archive collection are expected to be made available online from late 2018.
Rosenfeld Alla | 26 February 2018
Andrey Monastyrsky on the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI)
In late 1975 or early 1976, the three of us Nikita Alexeev, Lev Rubinstein, and me were at Irina Nakhova apartment on Malaya Gruzinskaya Street in Moscow, sitting and talking about how good it would be to create a magazine on unofficial art. It was during this conversation that the name for such a magazine was first mentioned. I don't remember who, but one of us said the word archive of new art. I think it was Rubinstein, as at the time he was involved with some sort of archive. On that day we didnt take it anyway further, other than coming up with that name: the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI).Лев Рубинштейн, Ирина Нахова, Андрей Монастырский, Никита Алексеев. Фотография Георгия Кизевальтера.Collective Actions first started its activity in March 1976. By the end of 1980, I completed the first volume of Trips Out of Town, which comprised documentation of the group's actions. I collected materials and developed a structure that included extensive descriptions and firsthand accounts of those who were involved, made a list of artists, wrote a foreword, etc. I was a kind of accountant, as I wasn't just an editor, but a publisher and printer as well. I printed the texts for all four volumes, Nikolai Panitkov bound the four books that were produced, and I glued the photographs into them.Акция группы «Коллективные действия» «Шар». Фотография Георгия Кизевальтера.After the first volume of Trips I still felt an itch. It was an interesting experience, and I remembered MANI, the Moscow Archive of New Art. I started discussing a possible form for the publication with Ilya Kabakov and Nikita Alexeev. Andrei Monastyrsky After the first volume of Trips I still felt an itch. It was an interesting experience, and I remembered MANI, the Moscow Archive of New Art. I started discussing a possible form for the publication with Ilya Kabakov and Nikita Alexeev. As the name contained the word archive we were open to doing something other than an ordinary magazine. Then it became clear that MANI should also comrpise four volumes, like Trips Out of Town. Finally, we decided that MANI should be a folder. Maybe Panitkov suggested it, or maybe me, or Kabakov or Nikita. I don't remember now. Anyway, MANI had a format and this format was a folder.I began putting together a list of those, who would go into the folder. I did this on my own just because I liked this work and no one else wanted to do it: everyone was busy with their own things. I was very strict in my choice of participants. I only picked those I liked, and that is why there are very few artists in the first MANI folder. I chose a theme that interested me: those artists who worked mostly with text (although there were also some photographs). I agreed with the artistsóIlya Kabakov, Erik Bulatov, Oleg Vassiliev, and Ivan Chuikovóthat they would select works for the volume and asked them to let me have a small amount of money for photography. George Kiesewalter played an important technical role: photographing, developing, and printing. After I had everything ready, Panitkov made a beautiful case in which I placed all of the envelopes containing texts and photographs.I was criticized for my discriminating approach and voluntarism, for excluding too many artists. The next folder, which was made by Vadim Zakharov and Viktor Skersis, included over forty people. Skersis and Zakharov didnít only expand the list, but selected an easier format: the case was replaced by a regular cardboard folder.Our circle already existed: the archive wouldn't have happened if there hadn't been a circle. It formed around Collective Actions and the discussions we had about the actions. This is obvious if we look at photographs from the time. All the people who defined our circle appear in the documentation for the first volume of Trips Out of Town. There were also one-off events where everyone gathered: one-day shows at Kuznetsky Most exhibition hall or at the City Committee of Graphic Artists on Malaya Gruzinskaya Street. But there wasnít a single cluster of texts. First the Trips, then the first MANI volume became the key publications that defined the circle, representing the time and recording the discourse. That turned out to be of importance to everyone and so we continued to work on compiling MANI folders.Each folder was made in an edition of four. Ilya Kabakov and I had the right to retain a copy: that is why we had the complete series. I believe Anatoly Zhigalov and Natalia Abalakova also had the full set. One copy of each edition was always changing hands. The only folder I didnít have was the last, fifth folder, which Toadstool group and Kiesewalter started working on together. The Toadstools eventually gave up, but George finished it. My copy is in the Zimmerli Art Museum collection.A-Ya magazine, which included articles on Soviet unofficial art, was first published in Paris in 1979. The first MANI folder was completed in February 1981. If we compare the two, there are, of course, differences. The folder format is reminiscent of the portfolio of manuscripts submitted to a magazine, a material resource for a forthcoming publication prepared for future analysis. The other difference is that, unlike an archive, which contained objects, a magazine has neither original photographs nor physical objects. All of this was included in MANI. For example, my object Spool (1982) was specially made in an edition of four to go inside each folder. Gennady Donskoi made a secret object that was presented inside a sealed envelope. Nikita Alexeev included his absurdist advertisements on thick paper with his telephone number on them. The significant features found in MANI are its materiality, objecthood, and texture.The most precious things in any archive are contained in objects: the color and scent of paper from, say, 1976 or the particular aesthetics of a typescript. In this sense, any archival document is priceless. All these handwritten notes, stains, and creases represent a time. An archive delivers us the plastic nature and the reality of time, its materiality.Andrei Monastyrsky (b. 1949, Petsamo, Russia) lives and works in Moscow. He is the leader of the Moscow Conceptual School. In 1980, he graduated in philology from Moscow State University. One of the founders of the group Collective Actions (1976), he became its chief ideologist and the author of most of its actions. Together with Vadim Zakharov and Yuri Leiderman, he participated in the groups Kapiton (2008-2010) and Corbusier (2009-2010). Solo exhibitions include: Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrsky and Collective Actions, Russian Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice (2011); Out of Town: Andrei Monastyrsky & Collective Actions, e-flux, New York (2011); Andrei Monastyrsky, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow (2010); and Earthworks, Stella Art Gallery, Moscow (2005). Group exhibitions include: Russian Performance: A Cartography of Its History, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2014); 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice (2007); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007); and 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003). He has been awarded the Andrei Bely Prize (Russia, 2003) and the Innovation Prize (Russia, 2009).
Monastyrsky Andrei | 26 February 2018
Norton and Nancy Dodge Archival Holdings of Nonconformist Art
MANI Archive The archive MANI: Moscow Archive of New Art consists of materials put together by individual artists, poets, and theorists in Moscow to represent their activities between 1980 and 1982. These materials include programmatic theoretical texts, documentary photographs, original artworks, and materials from exhibitions. Editors of the four volumes included Andrei Monastyrsky, Vadim Zakharov, Viktor Skersis, Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich, Anatoly Zhigalov, and Natalia Abalakova, who, like many of the contributors, make up the circle of Moscow Conceptualists. Nadezhda Stolpovskaya retrieving a large ball of paper from a folder. In the center, it contains a typewritten text on paper featuring a poem written by Boris Pasternak, 1978-1979. MANI Archive at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA. Photo: Peter Jacobs A-Ya Journal Archive The journal A-Ya: Unofficial Russian Art Revue, published by Igor Shelkovsky in Paris from 1979 through 1986, helped familiarize Western audiences with unofficial Russian art. The archive contains original manuscripts, correspondence, original artwork, visual material, and ephemera related to nearly every well-known unofficial artist and many poets working in Moscow during this period. It is an invaluable resource of firsthand information about artistic activity in Moscow in the late 1970s and 1980s, as well as a window into the relationships between Moscow artists and their colleagues who had immigrated to Paris and New York. An untitled work by Dmitri Prigov. A-Ya Archive at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA. Photo: Peter Jacobs Collective Actions Group Archive This archive documents the activities of the seminal unofficial Soviet/Russian performance art group Collective Actions (Andrei Monastyrsky, Nikita Alexeev, George Kiesewalter, Nikolai Panitkov, Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich, Sergei Romashko, Sabine Haensgen) from 1976 to 2003. Many of these materials were originally included in the group’s samizdat publication, Trips out of Town (later edited and published by Ad Marginem in 1998; and German Titov in 2009). The archive includes many annotated drafts of texts and diagrams for the production of Trips out of Town, as well as unpublished documentary photographs and some correspondence. The VHS tapes and CD ROMs contain documentary videos of selected performances. Although materials documenting the group’s performances are available from a number of other sources, the value of this archive consists of the additional photographic and video materials, as well as the sense it gives of the group’s working process in producing, documenting, and theorizing their actions. TEII Archive The TEII archive is related to the Fellowship of Experimental Fine Arts, an umbrella organization of unofficial artistic activities in Leningrad from 1981 through 1991, when it became the art center “Pushkinskaya, 10.” The archive includes selected materials from 1980 to 1988, and a guestbook from the TEII exhibition at the Kirov Palace of Culture in 1984.
26 February 2018