Moscow art magazine №3Moscow art magazine
№3 Digest 2007–2014
The present volume is the third English-language digest published by the Moscow Art Magazine (MAM), in two decades of its existence. This volume comprises texts of authors—philosophers, sociologists, art theorists and artists—with whom MAM has been conceptualizing this recent period of post-Soviet history. We are talking about a period that, beginning with the present day, dates back to 2007, when the chronology of texts of the previous digest had come to an end, i.e. the period of the so-called post-Soviet stabilization, its culmination and its first crisis.
The epithet, “Living in the Noughts” was given to the section the materials for which emerged as a reaction to the arrival of economic well-being and subsequent political and social pacification in Russia in the mid-2000s. Attempting to give this new status quo a definition, experts point to the combination of seemingly incompatible elements within it—recycled authoritarianism and etatization together with radical forms of neoliberalism (V. Kagarlitsky “Neoliberalism of the Noughts”). Thus, in the sphere of art politics, the authorities are banking on the creation of new infrastructure the goal of which is access to the global cultural entertainment, but under the control of cultural bureaucracy (“Against Conclusion”). Likewise, authorities are trying, on the one hand, to meld the Russian thinking class into the world precariat (M. Chehonadskih “The State Without the State and its People…”), and on the other, they demand from it the renunciation of any forms of critical consciousness (I. Chubarov “Politico-Technological Forms, or the Mimesis of the Political…”). Be the emergence of a critical position and theory is just one more—completely unwanted by it, but in its own way inevitable—consequence of stabilization (N. Kadan “From the Square to a Community: The Noughts and Ukrainian Art”).
However, stabilization in the '00s gave rise to yet another logical consequence – the transitional 1990s became history. Artistic figures of this epoch appear now as cult heroes (D. Golinko-Volfson “Strategy and Politics of Everything Novel…”), and the artistic movement of the first post-Soviet decade started to look like a heroic antipode to the conformism of the subsequent decade (O. Grabovskaya “The Formation of the Language of Political Art of the '90s…”). Moreover, providing a firm foothold, stabilization is, by definition, fraught with historicism. Thereupon, local critical theory in the process of maturing, discovers the revolutionary 1920s for itself (A. Penzin “The Biopolitics of the Soviet Avant-Garde”) and reexamines its own tradition (I. Budraitskis “Intelligentsia as a Style”).
“What am I doing here?!”—from this question, asked no longer in a narrow circle of critical intellectuals, but amongst thousands of activists who have taken to the streets, a new stage of stabilization begins – its first trial in a crisis (A. Gutkina “What am I doing here?!”). Moreover, from the very beginning, the protest movement in Russia that emerged in response to the falsification of national elections in 2011, perceived itself as a global fact, having found itself in the transnational brand of Occupy (G. Napreenko “'Occupy' in Moscow: Contemplating Place”; D. Vilensky “Everyone's Long-awaited Occupy”). At the same time, the new historical experience had posed fresh challenges to critical artistic discussion. The object of discussion now becomes not so much the necessity of a critical position, as the tactics and strategies of its realization (D. Vilensky “Critique of the 'Living Romantic Role Model'...”; K. Chukhrov “Contemporary Art in the Midst of False Democracy and Institutional Policies”), whereas in the very experience of the protest movement, its contradictions and limitations begin to be critically revealed (A. Bikbov “Self-Trial through Protest”).
While this volume aimed at commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the journal was getting readied for publication, new social upheavals turned another page in history. The present analyzed between these covers, and the ensuing perspectives into the past, have themselves currently become a bygone fact of the past, having bestowed to the “Moscow Art Magazine” and its authors new goals and having pointed them to new directions of work...