project > Transition in post-Soviet Art (The "Collective Actions" Group before and after 1989 (CEU Press Book) Foreword by Boris Groys


Published by Central European University Press, 2013 -- (Available on Amazon)

By Octavian Esanu

(Foreword by Boris Groys)

The Eastern European transition from socialism to capitalism that began in the early 1990s radically altered the artistic practice of the unofficial artists who had emerged decades earlier in the shadow of state socialism. This volume seeks to understand the nature of these changes by closely following the evolution of Moscow Conceptualism and of the Moscow-based conceptual artist group Collective Actions in particular. Esanu takes the history of this group as a case study to argue for a cultural or more specifically an artistic transition that unfolded in the background of the dominant economic and political one. The book performs a close reading of the Collective Actions group’s ten-volume Journeys Outside the City and Andrei Monastyrsky’s Dictionary of Moscow Conceptualism, revealing new artistic concerns and media as well as new modes of interaction among artists and their public. He follows the group through ten consecutive phases between 1975 and 2008, discussing the changes that occur in each new volume of the Journeys and comparing the Soviet volumes to those assembled after the dissolution of the USSR. The concept of “transition to democracy” is succinctly presented alongside the short-lived history of the Soros Centers for Contemporary Art—a pro-Western institutional mechanism implemented after 1989 to adjust the artistic practice of Eastern European artists to the logic of capitalist transition.

With an abridged translation of the Dictionary of Moscow Conceptualism