Why is the little badger no longer lazy? The breakthroughs and compromises of the 17th MOSKh Exhibition of Works by Young Artists

29 November 2016


Daniil Dondurey and Georgy Nikich, curators of the 17th Exhibition of Works by Young Moscow Artists (1986) in discussion with Sasha Obukhova. The title refers to a painting by Sergei Shutov which has become a notorious symbol of the show.

The 17th Exhibition of Works by Young Artists at the Moscow Union of Artists (MOSKh) and its public program were one of the first attempts to restructure the Soviet art scene. The project brought together a number of people, institutions, and initiatives with very different backgrounds, but which seemed to share the same modernizing ideals and values.

The huge success of this complex and controversial exhibition, its selection of artists (left- and right-leaning, contemporary and traditional, classically-educated and self-taught) and the mix of radicalism and compromise make it an event that cannot easily be classified. Now, thirty years later, we can begin to unravel its complexities and attempt to answer some of the key questions about the Russian contemporary art scene of the time. How did new exhibition formats develop? How did contemporary culture overcome the pressure of conservative structures and policies? How did people work “for an idea,” and why were they surprised when they actually got paid for their work? How were freedom and openness endorsed yet limited?


Daniil Dondurey is a cultural theorist and film critic, Chief Editor of Iskusstvo kino magazine, and the chair of the Commission on Rights in Culture, Education, and Science at the Russian Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.

Georgy Nikich is the chief curator of the Moscow Exhibition Halls Association and a lecturer at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and the Higher School of Economics. He is on the board of the Russian Association of Art Critics.

Sasha Obukhova is curator of Garage Archive Collection.

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