Overview of publications for the exhibition Toward the Source

Overview by Ilmira Bolotyan, Maryana Karysheva, Valery Ledenyov, Maria Shmatko and Yury Yurkin

Garage’s exhibition Toward the Source features several projects based on Garage Archive Collection. Garage Research have prepared an overview of books on the artists taking part in the show, available at Garage Library.

Вячеслав Курицын. Журналистика. 1993-1997 [Vyacheslav Kuritsyn. Journalism. 1993-1997]

СПб: Издательство Ивана Лимбаха, 1998. — 200 с.

This collection of articles by columnist, critic, writer, and poet Vyacheslav Kuritsyn contains his texts that were published in various newspapers and journals (Segodnya, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Novoye literaturnoye obozrenie, Gala-sport, Oktyabr, Moscow Art Magazine, OM and Matador) from 1993 to 1997. Along with book reviews bordering on essays, the publication also contains several articles on artists active in the 1990s, allowing the reader to get an idea of how some of the seminal performances of the decade were seen at the time they happened. 

Kuritsyn’s 1994 analysis of Oleg Kulik’s works is surprisingly political. The sacrificing of the piglet; soldiers hiding behind a faux wall with paintings in their hands; the action Giving Birth, which never happened—to Kuritsyn, all these gestures contribute to an image of an artist as a ‘strong man who can turn up the soil’, which should be popular with most Russian voters. In 1997, Kuritsyn described Dmitri Prigov as an educator, bringing light to the ignorant population of the dark empire: ‘You can easily imagine Prigov as a 100-year-old man: he will still be hanging out with 17-year-olds and performing in trendy venues’. With a few bold strokes, he paints portraits of Zhanna Aguzarova as a ‘national saint’ and Victor Pelevin as a contemporary fabulist, as ironic as his accounts of miscellaneous 1990s phenomena and events also included in the book—the introduction of new metro tickets (1996), urine therapy (1997), and women’s prose (1996). 

The book is complete with Kuritsyn’s signature drawings of a foxlike character with short additional comments that always accompanied his articles. The fox ‘represents the body of the Empire’, ‘gilds the voucher’, and ‘eats letters’. Today, it is also taking part in Garage’s exhibition Toward the Source, for which Vyacheslav Kuritsyn has made a project based on the collection newspaper clippings of the 1900s–1920s from Garage Archive. I. B. 

Olga Chernisheva. Compossibilities

Kunsthalle Erfurt, Erfurt: Hatje Cantz, 2013. — 216 pp.

The catalogue for Olga Chernisheva's exhibition Compossibilities at Kunsthalle Erfurt (2013) includes an interview with the curator of the show Silke Opitz and an essay by Boris Groys Looking for the Great Sunday

According to Silke Opitz, one of the central themes in Chernisheva's work is ‘melancholy of the moment itself,’ and in many ways, her practice continues the tradition of nineteenth-century realism, and in particular, the work of Peredvizhniki—a group Groys also refers to in his article for the publication. However, as Groys argues, unlike the realist tradition, which later took the shape of social realism, Chernisheva is interested in people outside of work. She is an ‘artist of Sunday’, an artist of leisure and forgetting about the time—the state Groys considers not only pleasurable but also dangerous, reminding us of many woes that politicians and thinkers have associated with it. 

Olga Chernisheva's video installations, slowly unfolding and often with little action, seem to capture the very essence of the medium and its aesthetics by blending the motion of film and the stillness of traditional painting. 

Some of Chernisheva’s videos of the 1990s, with newly added comments that are closer to digressions than descriptions, are featured in Towards the Source. Chernisheva’s project for the exhibition was inspired by the 1990s correspondence between collector Leonid Talochkin and artist Lev Snegirev from Garage Archive Collection. M. K. 

Вадим Фишкин. Орбита С [Vadim Fishkin. Orbit S]

XL.TXT. М.: XL Галерея, 1993-2008. — 262 с.

Kirill Savchenkov's project for the exhibition at Garage builds on his earlier project Horizon Community. The work features a selection of materials on ‘survival techniques developed by micro-communities in paradoxical environments’, that may be relevant for the society in the contemporary situation, presented on stands. 

Vadim Fishkin’s project Orbit S, exhibited at XL Gallery in 1994 and documented in this catalogue, was one of many inspirations behind Savchenkov's Horizon Community. The book features a text by Fishkin and an essay by artist Yuri Leiderman inspired by the metaphor of ‘Livingstones in Africa’, which was introduced by Andrei Monastyrsky in his Dictionary of Moscow Conceptualism and described ‘the self-identification and the worldview of Conceptualist artists in Russia.’

A ‘Livingstone in Africa’ is someone sent to live amongst indigenous tribes far from his homeland. He is surrounded by indigenous people but exists ‘outside’ of the society he’s living in. ‘The metaphor describes the following situation,’ Savchenkov explains. ‘I’m part of the system, yet I’m outside of it. I am here and there at the same time, <…> I take part in the same rites and relations, but I fill them with different meanings.’

‘Living outside’, or vnyenakhodimost, is one of the central concepts in the book by Aleksei Yurchak that Savchenkov often refers to, and which has been included in one of our previous overviews.

Savchenkov's elaborate projects mix science with literature and artists’ texts with theory. In many ways, they are similar to Vadim Fishkin’s works, which the artist himself describes as ‘autonomous structures’ that emerge from his ‘attempts to design a global machine.’

‘If you don’t feel anything as you pass by this stand,’ the writing on one of the works says, ‘you are not being tricked. That’s what vnyenakhodimost should feel like.’ V. L.

Trekhprudny Lane. Moskva 1991-1993

Rolfstorp: Hong Kong Press, 2000. — 64.

This catalogue takes us back to the Moscow of 1991–1993, where Tryokhprudny Lane Studios emerged and became famous. Although the people behind Tryokhprudny described it as a non-art (as well as non-commercial, unconventional and independent) gallery, it was among the places that shaped the art scene and the critique of the 1990s. Published in Swedish and English, to a Russian reader this bilingual edition might appear as yet another Tryokhprudny art project commenting on the idea of passive spectatorship. Thirty-six projects, selected for the catalogue by art historian and curator Ekaterina Degot, include some of the most ironic and provocative exhibitions and actions that happened at the gallery: works commenting on Rembrandt, Duchamp and Manzoni; rebellious projects subverting Soviet archetypes; a wedding banquet and empty fridges; a currency exchange and rivers of vodka. Unlike many other galleries, whose policies are determined by curators, Tryokhprudny’s exhibitions plan was devised by a group of artists—Konstantin Reunov, Valery Koshlyakov, Pavel Aksyonov, Vladimir Dubossarsky, Ilya Kitup, Viktor Kasyanov, Alexander Kharchenko and Alexander Sigutin—even if Avdey Ter-Oganyan was considered the leader. Those were the early days of the Moscow artistic community, whose activity, as Ekaterina Degot argues, soon went beyond artistic experiments. Having created a Western-style artist-run space, several creators sharing the studios at Tryokhprudny were organising performances, making installations and interactive actions that allowed for—or required audience participation. Their postmodernist gestures and energies anticipated the art of today. For the exhibition Toward the Source, Vladimir Logutov made a series of coloured works on paper based on an exhibition view of Avdey Ter-Oganyan’s For Abstraction. The paradox of the archive, which can never preserve the event in its fullness, has become one of the central themes in Logutov’s work. M. Sh. 

Андрей Монастырский. Дневник 1981 – 1984
[Andrei Monastyrsky. Diary 1981 – 1984]

Вологда: Библиотека московского концептуализма Германа Титова, 2014. — 334 c.

As the title suggests, the book is a diary by one of the most remarkable representatives of Moscow Conceptualism, but an ironic reader might treat it as an album, or a collection of poetry. Ideas and passages from this book later evolved into Monastyrsky’s novel Kashirskoye Highway about a young man driven mad by religion. 

The book will be useful to academics writing on Moscow Conceptualism as well as to the general reader interested in Monastyrsky and his practice. With the artist’s first diary, dating back to 1965, exhibited in Towards the Source, this book offers an opportunity to trace the development of his ideas in the years that followed. Yu. Yu.