July 18 - September 20, 1997
Joseph Backstein, Co-Curator Elena Elagina
Collective Actions features over 50 poster sized black and white photographs, wall texts and a video program documenting works by the influential Russian performance group, Collective Actions. Under the leadership of theoretician Andrei Monastyrsky, Collective Actions has been an important influence in the development of contemporary conceptual and performance art in the Soviet Union.
Formed in 1976, the Collective Actions' work was vital to the development of Conceptualism as one of the most influential movements in Soviet art. As stated by curator Joseph Backstein, "The Collective Actions group was influenced by the work of Joseph Beuys and John Cage, the peculiarity of Soviet performance lies in its attempt to demonstrate the conditional mood of the perception as such and the evolution of various stereotypes of human behavior against the background of official ideology. This ideology aimed at monopolizing the very right to interpret all manifestations of the Real including its reflections in art. Collective Actions insists on multiple interpretations."
All of Collective Actions' performances took place outdoors, primarily in the country, and endure in the form of black and white photographs, video, and commentaries written by the viewers documenting their impressions of the performances. Linking performance with ritual, the Collective Actions performances were spiritual acts aimed to create an atmosphere of unanimity among the participants and to serve as a vehicle for directing consciousness outside the boundaries of intellect. The photo images in the exhibition, Collective Actions, document representative scenes of various performances from 1976 to 1990, recreating the atmosphere, spirit, and significance of the performative actions of the Collective Actions group.
A catalogue published by Exit Art, includes an interview between Andrei Monastyrsky and Victor Tupitsyn, essays by Victor Tupitsyn, and the curator, Joseph Backstein, as well as a list of the group's actions.
Joseph Backstein is the director and founder of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow. He has been an important curator of contemporary Russian art, preserving and researching this work, and placing it within a larger global context.
Collective Actions was the second in a series of exhibitions organized by Exit Art/The First World to present work by artists outside the United States, giving exposure and critical attention to these artists.
Exhibit Archive | 96-97 Calender