Discussion: Mnemonic Solidarity? Contemporary Art, Collective Memory, and Participatory Practices

Discussion: Mnemonic Solidarity? Contemporary Art, Collective Memory, and Participatory PracticesDiscussion: Mnemonic Solidarity? Contemporary Art, Collective Memory, and Participatory Practices


The final discussion of the cycle The Arts of Memory, organized as part of the public program accompanying the Thomas Demand exhibition Mirror without Memory, is devoted to the domestic and international experience of contemporary art working with history and memory.

In projects addressing events, images, and affects of the past, art can act as a type of research practice, a storytelling tool, or a way of living out a trauma. The tradition of postwar Western European art has developed around the collective recollection of the horrors of World War II. Solving their own formal and conceptual problems, the artists reflected upon themselves in the context of the tragedy they had experienced. The war became an important milestone in creative biographies—both real, like Günther Uecker’s, or fictional, like that of Joseph Beuys, with trauma and the inadmissibility of oblivion turning into the subject of constant reflection, which is equally characteristic of Christian Boltanski’s conceptual pieces, Anselm Kiefer’s complex textured paintings, and Yannis Kounellis’s allegorical installations.

Eastern European contemporary art is marked by the development of research and rethinking of the Soviet context, from tragic memories in the practice of Jaanus Samma to utopian narratives in Yael Bartana's video works. In Russia, the legacy of the past never became the subject of consistent artistic research, with only a few authors having chosen to build their creative strategies around it.

The panelists include artists, curators, and researchers who will discuss what approaches to working with a major historical narrative and personal history exist in contemporary art in Russia and worldwide and will talk about their own projects, addressing the historical heritage, archives, and personal memory.


Alexander Morozov is an artist, author of interdisciplinary research projects and sound installations. The artist's works raise a number of philosophical questions dealing with the expansion of the model and functioning of art, the fixation of an experience, and the representation of an environment, which is physically outside the cultural field, but within the field of cultural research. He is the winner of the Sergey Kuryokhin Prize in the Best Visual Project nomination (2019). He lives and works in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Haim Sokol is an artist, a teacher at Moscow’s Rodchenko Art School and at HSE Art and Design School, and a member of the editorial board at Khudozhestvenny Zhurnal (Moscow Art Magazine). Graduate of the Hebrew University (Jerusalem) and Institute of Contemporary Art (Moscow). His work addresses alienation, isolation, and broken ties in the modern world. Working with archival materials and private documents, the artist unveils twentieth-century history through the prism of private fates, explores the problems of historical memory and the current socio-political situation. He lives and works in Moscow.

Galina Yankovskaya is a researcher and museum practitioner. She is a Professor of History at Perm State National Research University, Head of the Department of Interdisciplinary Historical Research, and Doctor of Historical Sciences. Her research interests include the social history of art, the intersection of public history and contemporary art, museum studies, and the methodology of historical writing. Since 1999, she has been a member of the scientific council of Perm’s Museum of Local Lore. From 2009 to 2019, she was director of the scientific research department at PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art. She is the author of multiple academic publications, including Art, Money, and Politics: An Artist in the Years of Late Stalinism (2007) and Living Perm (2011). She lives and works in Perm.

Anton Valkovsky (b. 1986, Volgograd) is an independent curator and a manager of socio-cultural projects. He is a Candidate of Philosophical Sciences. From 2012 to 2016 he headed the Cultural Initiatives Agency of Volgograd Oblast and initiated self-organized activities with the new generation of young contemporary artists in Volgograd. In 2018 and 2019 he was an invited researcher and curator at ZK/U (Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik) in Berlin. He co-founded the self-organized initiative of Ossetian artists Hæshtæg and was the curator of the 1st Biennial of Difficult Heritage. He lives and works in Vladikavkaz.



Alisa Savitskaya is chief curator at Tikhaya Studio (Nizhny Novgorod) and visiting curator at the Museum of Moscow. From 2009 to 2020, she was head of exhibitions and chief curator at the Volgo-Vyatka branch of Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Arsenal, Nizhny Novgorod). In 2019–2020, she curated the All-Russian contemporary art competition Innovation. She lives and works in Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow.


The discussion will take place via Zoom and will be broadcast on the Garage YouTube channel.