top of page

Performing the Archive: Collective Actions in the 1970s and 1980s

Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, NJ , 2009

In the totalizing media environment of the late-Soviet era, many artists from the Moscow underground sought alternative ways of being seen and heard. Samizdat poetry, performances, and self-curated archives are only a couple of the strategies unofficial artists employed in the search for new spaces of artistic practice. In their “trips outside the city,” the Collective Actions group—a key grouping within the Moscow Conceptualist circle—invited audiences to travel to the fields outside Moscow to witness performances in the landscape. Documenting these performances through sound, photography, and video, the group kept a running record of its activities. Such factographic material was supplemented by interpretive essays and transcripts of group discussions, all of which was brought together in the folders of the Collective Actions archive. The present exhibition focuses on the first two decades of the group’s activities, introducing viewers to rare video footage of early actions as well as other materials from the archive. By representing key actions through related documentary and discursive materials, the exhibition proposes a re-performance of these actions for a contemporary audience.

Organized by Yelena Kalinsky, Dodge Fellow and Graduate Assistant for Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art

bottom of page