Archive for October 2010

TOTAL ENLIGHTENMENT   Leave a comment

Conceptual Art in Moscow 1960-1990

MarchLift

An Exhibition with more than 200 works by 25 artists, from 1960 to 1990, which reconstructs the “unofficial” art scene of the period in question in the Soviet Union. Fundación Juan March, Madrid. October 10, 2008 – January 11, 2009.

Imagine a place where the dream of a modern utopia actually existed. A place with no distinctions between high and mass culture. Imagine contemporary artists working in a world in which, officially, there was neither an art market nor galleries, neither critics nor collectors, neither art publications nor any institutions other than those of the State. A world without an audience.

For most of the 20th century, such was the reality in the Soviet Union from 1922 until its dissolution in 1991. And it was within this context that the conceptual artists of Moscow, from the 1960s through the 1990s, created their distinctive body of work, operating along the margins of a culture and society defined by those very absences. Total Enlightenment: Conceptual Art in Moscow, 1960-1990, conceived and co-organized by the Fundación Juan March and the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt – where the exhibition is on view from June 21 to September 14, 2008 – with organizing curator Boris Groys – the leading expert on this subject – is the first systematic presentation of the work of these artists.

Featured are some 150 works in all media by 25 artists, including such pivotal representatives as Ilya Kabakov, Erik Bulatov, Boris Mikhailov, Dmitri Prigov, Komar & Melamid, Yuri Albert, Andrei Monastyrski and the artist groups Collective Actions and Inspection Medical Hermeneutics. Through these works, and a provocative installation, the exhibition reconstructs the “unofficial” art scene of the period in question and documents the acute reflections of these artists on the all-embracing Soviet ideology. Their varied works provide insight and commentary on an artistic-political program whose subject was the world in its totality; its time span, all of history, and its result, the Soviet system.

This exhibition was notable for the quantity of security guards who were very attentive at stopping any attempt to take photographs inside the gallery (or anywhere in the building). I took the lift between the two floors of the gallery and took the photograph of the lift panel display (shown above). On arriving at the next floor, I was met by two security people, one armed with a gun, who insisted very seriously that it was forbidden to take photographs. They must have been observing the Closed-Circuit-TV of the interior of the lift. One wonders whether the March Foundation is always like this, or whether the highlighted text in the quote gives a clue.

Posted October 13, 2010 by artprop in Under Surveillance

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