Angels of History – Moscow Conceptualism and its Influence

Monroe  starz 2005 photo m hkaclinckx 11

Event

MuHKA, Antwerpen

17 September 2005 - 27 November 2005

This exhibition starts from a synthetic view of Moscow Conceptualism, an as yet undervalued phenomenon in art history. It embodies the return of contemporary art in Russia, of which the country had once been a beacon. Moscow Conceptualism emancipated art from the social realist tradition which for so long had been the doxa in Russia, making art again autonomous from official society, being both a critique and – still more important – a possible alternative. It proposes a mode of artistic behaviour, both linked to reality and striving to transcend it through radical choices. This return to the real – a microcosm, potentially a macrocosm – can be seen as a return to common sense. Artists in this tradition have the responsibility to further and enhance understanding. This ‘angelic’ moment is till now the defining reference for contemporary art practice in Russia, its ‘second avant-garde’. It is the central strand in the history of Russian contemporary art from the sixties till the late eighties and as such continues to be a ground for artists in Russia up till today. Two years ago the Antwerp M HKA researched the contemporary situation in Russia in cooperation with Viktor Misiano through the project ‘Horizons of Reality’. Now the museum aims at the potential of vision Russia offers on contemporary art with ‘Angels of History’. This exhibition is developed with Joseph Backstein. He was not only director of the first Moscow Biennial for Contemporary Art earlier this year, but he is above all a specialist on Moscow conceptualism and a participant in the movement from its early, underground years onwards. ‘Angels of History’ wants to look back but forward at the same time, to take a wider view. It does not aim to be a historical exhibition, even if a background of historical documentation will be offered in a documentation corner organised by the Archive of Contemporary Russian Art on the upper floors of the M HKA.

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