Last year Garage initiated the launch of RAAN (Russian Art Archive Network)—an international project developed in collaboration with Zimmerli Art Museum and the University of Bremen. Zimmerli’s collection will become the first international addition to RAAN’s online archive.
In the first ten months since its launch, the RAAN website has grown to include 56,328 entries: videos and photographic materials, books, correspondence, invitations, press releases, artists’ sketches, and other materials from Garage Archive Collection. RAAN is an Intelligent Network, where each entry is linked to others based on contextual, historical or subject matter connections. Besides data, users get an opportunity to see events in a broader context. From the very beginning, the platform was developed not only as a digital storage space for documents on the history of Russian contemporary art, but also as a public online encyclopedia open to all users.
In October 2018, RAAN users will get access to documents related to the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI) from the collection of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, USA.
MANI consists of materials collected by Moscow artists, poets, and art theorists to document their work from 1980 to 1982. These include manifestos and art theory writings, photographs, original artworks, and exhibition-related materials. The four-volume archive was edited by artists Andrei Monastyrsky, Vadim Zakharov, Viktor Skersis, Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich, Anatoly Zhigalov and Natalia Abalakova, all of whom, like many other participants of the project, belonged to the Moscow Conceptualist circle.
RAAN partners will make available to the public over 160 previously unpublished documents on people and events related to the Moscow Conceptualists who took part in the making of MANI.
In Spring 2019, RAAN users will get access to information on the collection devoted to philosopher Boris Groys and journalist Natalya Nikitina from the Research Center for East European Studies (University of Bremen, Germany). Documents from this archive are currently being processed and added to the project’s online catalogue. The core part of the collection consists of documents related to the life and work of philosopher and art historian Boris Groys and journalist Natalia Nikitina, including manuscripts, articles, interviews, essays, and other materials.
Acknowledging its importance in terms of aggregating the previously scattered or hard-to-access information on the history of Russian contemporary art, European Art Net (EAN) has included RAAN into its database. EAN brings together online collections of eleven institutions, including documenta (Kassel), The Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA, Zurich), the archive of Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, and The Research Centre for Artists' Publications in Bremen.
As part of the partnership, in August 2018, Garage published information on a thousand artists, curators, gallery owners, and other key figures in Russian contemporary art on EAN’s website, thus joining one of the largest European databases.
The goal of the RAAN is to promote and facilitate research into postwar Russian contemporary art. Garage and its RAAN partners are working to help researchers and the wider audience gain access to sources that were previously out of reach due to the specific nature of archival and museum storage. The initiative also encourages researchers to study archives in Russia’s regions and invites new institutional partners to collaborate.
The project’s website features an online catalogue allowing users to search the archive collections of all RAAN partners, with new materials added as digitization continues. The website has Russian and English versions. Most of the uploaded documents are in Russian, with the exception of entries for archival documents and press cuttings in foreign languages, and information on exhibitions that took place outside Russia/the Soviet Union.
The collection illuminates a variety of unofficial artistic activities in Moscow, St. Petersburg (Leningrad), and the former Soviet Republics, providing insight into the personal, social, and institutional conditions under which the artists worked.
Over 600 personal archives, including those of Soviet Nonconformist artists, writers, and poets, provide insight into informal artistic circles in the Soviet Union and place them within the context of the international art scene from the 1950s to the 1980s.
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