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Kanonbildung im transkulturellen Netzwerk. Die Rezeptions-geschichte des Moskauer Konzeptualismus aus deutsch-russischer Sicht

How did a circle of Soviet artists and writers virtually unknown until perestroika turn into Russia’s most influential contemporary art movement? This book reconstructs the cultural history and canonization of a group of painters and poets known as the Moscow conceptualists, who paradoxically did not perceive themselves as a movement before their intense reception in the international and post-Soviet art world in the 1990s.

Dorine Schellens
01 March 2021

Today, Moscow conceptualism does not just figure prominently in art histories and museums, but also continues to inspire a new generation of Russian artists, ranging from the streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy to the protest art collective Pussy Riot. This book retraces the reasons for the international popularity of this group by developing a new methodological framework that enables us to study canon formation as a transnational rather than national process. Combining insights from network theory, cultural transfer studies and reception history, the analysis reconstructs the circulation of actors, artworks and ideas in a transnational network across Russia, Europe and the US from the 1970s until today. By focusing on the migration and translation of knowledge between different cultures as well as areas of society such as the art scene, the museum world and academia, the book offers a contribution to pressing debates on the need to rethink processes of canonization.

For contributions on this topic in English, I refer to my blog post (“Rumor or Reality? Moscow Conceptualism as a Challenge for Our Contemporary Art Canon”, 2019) and recent talk (“‘I Live – I See’: The Role of Moscow Conceptualism in Memory Debates About the Soviet Past”, 2020).

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