Moscow art magazine №1Moscow art magazine
№1 Digest 1993–2005
A similar introduction has already been written fifty-seven times: from 1993 onward, we have published fifty-seven issues of «Moscow Art Magazine». Since then, it has been the only Russian-language publication on the theory and practice of contemporary art. As a publication that came into being by the sheer will of a small group of enthusiasts and associates during a period of social and artistic reform, the magazine took on the responsibility of describing those processes and to assert a new type of writing on contemporary art and new artistic discourse. Inasmuch not only critics and theoreticians but mostly artists took part in the construction of this discourse, the artists themselves became the main participants of the magazine's foundation. Thus, during the last decade, the MAM has not only become a field for theoretical discussion but also an art scene of its own right. Consequently, the making of MAM has never settled into any industrial routine: each issue is born in the vivid discussion of the magazine's editorial board.
Sharing the dynamic of change with its epoch, the magazine has changed several times over. Its first six issues came just in time to capture what remained of the optimism that dominated during the Perestroika and the beginning of the reforms. At the time, the journal appeared in a provocatively large format that was shocking in its radicalism of design, and published striking manifestos and programmatic texts. It is here that the leading Russian artists of those years -including Alexander Brener, Dmitri Gutov, Oleg Kulik, Georgi Litichevsky Yuri Leiderman, Anatoly Osmolovsky, and Pavel Pepperstein - were able to establish their positions, while leading analysts of the artistic process - such as Ekaterina Andreeva, Ekaterina Bobrinskaya, Ekaterina Degot, Victor Mazin, Vitaly Patsiukov Vladimir Salnikov and Olesya Turkina - also published some of their first contributions. MAM was also able to establish connections to some of the most significant Russian philosophers and theorists, such as Evegeny Barabanov Boris Groys, Valery Podoroga, Elena Petrovskaya, Vadim Rudnev, Alexander Sogomonov Boris Kagarlitsky and Alexander
Yakimovich The new galleries that were founded at this time published announcements in the magazine, but these were far more similar to artists' project descriptions than to commercial advertisements. In this way, the pages of MAM became a venue for the formation of a new art scene and a new community.
Later, during the mid-1990s, the most trying years of the transitional period, the magazine corrected its conception and layout. The design sobered and turned away from the affect of the early years, while the manifesto-type texts gave way to essays that were more intellectually responsible and theoretically profound. Texts by Western philosophers and analysts became more frequent, and the practices of dialogues and roundtables were firmly established as a part of the editorial repertoire. In retrospect, those years seemed to be a time of deep crisis in contrast to the optimism of the preceding era. Yet when one looks back over the issues made in this time, one can tell that it was then that the Russian art scene came to intellectual maturity and the journal finally became a full-fledged discursive publication.
After 1998, the neo-liberal euphoria ebbed and faded, while the infrastructure - including that of the artistic scene - slowly began to take new form. The restructured image of the magazine was adequate to these changes: its design attempted to combine rather dry pragmatism with elegance. In terms of theme, its issues also became more concrete and now included central themes such as «Institutions», «Community», «New Painting», «Prices and Values», «Artistic Formations» etc. The magazine closely followed the formation of the art system in Russia, a process which it strove to diagnose and analyze, but also to criticize. During this period, the body of authors also changed quite significantly: MAM practically raised a new generation of critics and theorists, including Dmitri Bulatov, Dmitri Golynko-Wolfson, Anna Matveeva, Alexei Penzin, Sergei Popov, David Riff and Andrei Fomenko. A new generation of artists also became a part of its reference-group,
including artists such as Viktor Alimpiev, Marian Zhunin, Irina Korina, Elena Kolylina, and the groups «Escape» and «What is to be done?». In the last years, the magazine has also been able to establish a network of young, Russian-speaking intellectuals who contribute to MAM from different corners of the globe.
By the way, it has always been one of MAM's most important missions to draw different, hitherto unexplored regions into a dialogue with reducing them to a unified space. From its earliest issues onward, the magazine has included contributions from Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Aty, Vilnius, Tallinn, Riga, Kishinev. It has also been the first Russian publication to print of texts by authors such as Slavoj Zizek, Renata Salecl, Toni Negri, Rosalind Krauss, Donald Kuspit, Francesco Bonami, Nicolas Bouriaud, Robert Fleck, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Thomas Wulffen, developing the dialogue of Russian art with the international intellectual scene.
To publish over 50 issues of a theoretical journal in a time of economic default, political turmoil and intellectual disorientation still seems a difficult and nearly impossible endeavor. Yet throughout this entire period, MAMwas not alone: instead, it was part of a fragile network of institutions such as galleries and cultural centers that survived in spite of the situation and drew strength from mutual solidarity. Much in the same way, this digest, which presents contemporary Russian thinking on art, has been made possible thanks to the solidarity of the «Russian Gallery».
Last but not least: in selecting the texts for this digest from among all those that have appeared in the fifty-seven issues published so far, MAM has given preference to texts written by authors living and working in Russia, to texts that were addressed the Russian scene, and were dedicated to describing the collisions that brought them to life. In publishing its first English-language digest, MAM hopes to introduce an international context to the most unique part of its archive, namely that which has made it into more than just one of many art magazines and into «Moscow Art Magazine».
Moscow, May 2005