15 November 2011

Internal Exiles

The new edition of e-flux journal is up, offering a thumpingly nice theme issue devoted to Moscow Conceptionalism. The issue is primed to coincide with a current exhibition of work by Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions that's being held at the e-flux NYC space, which was curated by Boris Groys.

Broadly, the contributors aim to situate Soviet conceptual art of the 1970s and '80s in relation to to its counterparts in the U.S. and Europe. There's also a common argument for a more context-specific historicizing of the work, a reading that diverges from the perennial critical account of framing the work in an over-simplified "dissident" reading.*  As far as specifics are concerned: Groys addresses Soviet conceptualism from an anti-aesthetic angle, contributor Keti Chukhrov offers a materialist parsing of Soviet conceptualism in relation to the anti-libidinal nature of socialist economies, while Claire Wilson delves into the collaborative and participatory nature of many of Collective Action Group's projects. Plenty there for the interested, as well as copious references to other recent literature on the topic for the curious.

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*  This was the common account for the work back in the 1980s, when the work of various artists connected with the "Sots Arts" network, received any press in the U.S. and elsewhere. So yes, the Iron Curtain having long since fallen and perestroika having since become an historically remote rubric to filter all such stuff through, perhaps this sort of re-framing is long overdue.

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