Boris Groys (Ed.)
The Soviet Union was still going strong in the 1970s when a group of dissident artists now known as the
Moscow Conceptualists began using their work to confront the triumphs and failures of socialism. This collection of essays on the movement appears with an introduction by the uniquely qualified editor and commentator Boris Groys, who combines his varied careers as an art critic and media theorist with an NYU professorship in Russian and Slavic studies. Moscow Symposium is the newest title in Sternberg’s rousing, entertaining E-Flux series and the second journal edited by Groys (his first is Going Public). The series takes discussions, symposia, panels, forums and texts already interacting with thinkers online and turns them into small-format, soft-cover readers.
Communism had already converted objects to ideas—collective property—and citizen-subjects to nonprofessional artists. Thus, the found object, the elevating of idea over material, and the disappearance of the artist’s hand were already indistinguishable from an ideological landscape taken for granted by the artists who lived in that world. Interestingly, it is in this sense that Moscow Conceptualism must be considered: not only as the work of dissident artists confronting the triumphs and failures of socialism, but also as a continuous line of inquiry producing radically unexpected terms for non-alienated art.
Groys and other contributors take the works and activities of the Moscow Conceptualists as a departure point and consider how the modest artistic practices they developed in the 1970s reflect the resilience and flexibility of a more general sphere of conceptualisms in the plural. Essays by Claire Bishop, Keti Chukhrov, Ekaterina Degot, Jörg Heiser, Terry Smith, Anton Vidokle and Sarah Wilson explore the residue of an era which is becoming forgotten with astonishing speed.
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