"Field of Action. The Moscow Conceptual School in Context 1970s - 1980s" Exhibition Catalogue
In October 2010 the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation published "Field of Action. The Moscow Conceptual School in Context 1970s - 1980s" exhibition catalogue.
The catalogue reviews "the field of action" of the Moscow Conceptual art – one of the most significant and complicated phenomenon in the Russian culture of the latter half of the XX century. The catalogue compilers and the exhibition curators Alexandra Danilova and Elena Kuprina-Lyakhovich set themselves the task of taking a defamiliarized look at events from this already bygone age, delineate the key vectorial forces in the artistic field, and outline the most significant phenomena in Moscow Conceptualist history. Or as the Conceptualists themselves would put it – to define the movement's text and context.
The first section of the catalogue is dedicated to the "context" of the Moscow Conceptualist School and has the unique materials - Vadim Zakharov and Georgy Kiesewalter's Studio Visit albums as a basis. This part of the catalogue exploring the key figures from the period in which the "conceptualist circle": Vladimir Weisberg, Anatoly Zverev, Dmitry Krasnopevtsev, Vladimir Nemukhin, Oskar Rabin, Yuri Sobolev and many other leading artists came together. The compilers consider the well-known Bulldozer Exhibition (1974) as a dividing line between the two periods, as the starting point for the emergence of the new unofficial artist's circle; while the final chord of the "Field of Action" project is the Sotheby's auction of 1988. This auction was the first occasion were the "worth" of unofficial art was officially and legally started and, for the artists it marked the beginning of a whole new era Field of Action catalogue referred to as "Epilogue. Happy Days." However, preparing the exhibition and the catalogue the curators did not limit themselves with historical framework. They identified several key, sometimes formative artistic concepts notions from the period and designated the main trends that originated within the Moscow Conceptual School and continued to develop in conceptual artistic space over the following decades. In line with this principle, the main part of the catalogue is divided into chapters of "Space", "Surfaces", "Signs/Structures", "Mythology", "New Wave".
Equally important is the other side of the Moscow conceptualism history reflected in the catalog - the photographs of artists, studios, photo documentations of apartment exhibitions, actions and other unique materials saved only in several personal archives. The catalogue includes the photographs by Georgy Kiesewalter, Igor Makarevich, Vadim Zakharov, Sergei Volkov and Igor Palmin.
The reconstruction of external and internal "context" of the Moscow Conceptualism is a fundamentally new way for presentation the theme of the Moscow Conceptualism, until now poorly known as a holistic phenomenon. We hope that the catalog will be interesting not only to specialists, but also to everybody interested in the history of contemporary art. Its extensive material invites readers not only to comprehend, but also to reconsider the theme.
The catalogue presents over seventy artists and artistic groups and includes the works by Yuri Albert, Erik Bulatov, Sergei Volkov, Vadim Zakharov, Konstantin Zvezdochetov, Ilya Kabakov, Vitaly Komar, Igor Makarevich and Elena Elagina, Andrei Monastyrsky, Nikolai Panitkov, Viktor Pivovarov, Dmitry Prigov, Andrei Roiter, Andrei Filippov, as well as "Mukhomor" and SZ art groups and many others.
Along with reproductions of artworks and archive materials, the catalogue contains articles, written by the artists themselves: essays by Yuri Albert, Dmitry Prigov, Georgy Kiesewalter, Vitaly Komar, Andrei Monastyrsky, as well as the articles by the well-known art critics: Joseph Backstein, Ekaterina Bobrinskaya, Alexandra Obukhova and the exhibition's curators. Another notable feature of the catalogue is including quotations from the exhibition curator's interviews with the representatives of the Moscow art circle and the pioneers of the Moscow conceptualism.
The design solution of the catalogue, on the one hand, corresponds to Moscow unofficial art epoch aesthetics, on the other hand is modern and unusual. Every sixth part of the circulation has its own cover design, representing one of the six selected artworks, demonstrated at the exhibition and printed in catalogue, as well as relevant statements of artists-participants.
The catalogue was published both in Russian and in English.