moscow

Andrei Monastyrsky, Fountain, 1996, photographs mounted on sixteen boards, wheat flour, 7' 2“ x 19' 8” x 19' 8".

Andrei Monastyrsky

Moscow Museum of Modern Art

Andrei Monastyrsky, Fountain, 1996, photographs mounted on sixteen boards, wheat flour, 7' 2“ x 19' 8” x 19' 8".

Collective aesthetic practices long haunted Soviet art. Rooted in avant-garde artists’ commitment to serve the utopian project of Bolshevism, such forms of creativity were corrupted by socialist realism’s counterfeit of the image of successful collectivity, and hence challenged by postwar modernists eager to resurrect a lost sense of individuality. After the “bulldozer show”—the outdoor exhibition notoriously destroyed by Soviet authorities in 1974—the next generation of unofficial artists once again flocked into collectives, this time as a survival tactic.

Andrei Monastyrsky’s exhibition traced the ins and outs of his relationship with collective aesthetics. Originally a poet, in 1975 he replaced his literary practice with a series of conceptual objects that he dubbed “elementary poetry.” These dadaist black boxes are effective in their visual and performative simplicity.

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