Empty Zones. Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions

Empty Zones. Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions
Dates 04 June — 27 November 2011
Address Giardini, Venice
Curator: Boris Groys Commissioner: Stella Kesaeva Organizers: Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Stella Art Foundation

Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions made an installation specially for the Russian Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition. 

Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions made an installation specially for the Russian Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition. The Collective Actions group (its members are Nikita Alekseev, Elena Elagina, Georgy Kizevalter, Igor Makarevich, Andrei Monastyrski, Nikolai Panitkov, Sergei Romashko, and Sabine Hänsgen; Nikita Alekseev and Georgy Kizevalter left the group in 1983 and 1989 respectively) was founded by Monastyrski in 1976 and continues its work to this day. Boris Groys, the exhibition’s curator, considers that “it was the first example in Russia of the kind of art that takes the viewer out of his usual passive condition and offers him an active role in creating an artistic event.”

The aesthetic spatiotemporal events that make up CA’s ‘actions’ have been developed both in huge rural spaces (fields, forests, rivers and so on) and in the texts that introduce the actions, accompany them, and comment on the events of an action. However, some actions have also been held in the city and in closed spaces when the process of developing a contemporary aesthetic language has called for it. CA has performed 125 actions and compiled 10 volumes (work on the 11th is in progress) of the Trips out of Town books.

The Russian Pavilion hosts an attempt to view CA’s actions retrospectively as life in art. The exhibition shows art as the production of oneself rather than of objects (paintings, sculptures, installations). Empty Zones is the concept of life as a unique kind of artwork. And this life in art is demonstrated through using the metaphors created for the Russian Pavilion space.

The exhibition also hosts an installation by A. Monastyrski “11” built on references to the historical and topological contexts and based on materials of CA’s actions.

Andrei Monastyrski
Born 1949. One of the most important Moscow Conceptualist artists. Founder of the Collective Actions group. Has participated in the International Art Exhibitions of la Biennale di Venezia (1993, 2003, 2007), documenta 12 (2007), “Total Enlightenment. Conceptual Art in Moscow 1960-1990”, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt a. M./Fondacion March, Madrid (2008-2009), and Brussels Biennial 1 (2008), and was the subject of a solo exhibition held at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2010-2011). Lives and works in Moscow.

Boris Groys
Born 1947. Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University, USA. Curator of several exhibitions, including: “Dream Factory Communism”, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt a. M. (2004); “Total Enlightenment. Conceptual Art in Moscow (1960–1990)”, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt a. M./Fondacion March, Madrid (2008-2009); “Medium Religion” (with Peter Weibel) at the ZKM, Karlsruhe (2009). Recent publications: “Art Power”, MIT-Press (2008); “History Becomes Form: Moscow Conceptualism”, MIT-Press (2010); “Going Public”, Sternberg Press/e-flux (2010). Lives and works in New York, USA

Stella Kesaeva
Founded Stella Art Foundation in 2003. Has organized over 100 exhibitions in Moscow, Europe, and America, including “Ruin Russia”, Campo San Stae (2007), “That Obscure Object of Art”, Ca’ Rezzoniko (2009) as part of the Venice Biennale Collateral Events program, as well as Elena Elagina and Igor Makarevich’s exhibition “In Situ,” Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (2009), and “Boris Orlov. Circle of Heroes,” Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (2010). In Russia, Kesaeva has organized exhibitions including Ilya & Emilia Kabakov’s “Incident in the Museum and Other Installations,” State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2004), “Mapplethorpe’s Rooms” at the Foundation’s space in Moscow, and “Vadim Zakharov. 25 Years on One Page,” State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (2006). Lives and works in Moscow.

Architecture: Kuehn Malvezzi, Berlin 
Production: Altofragile, Milan 
Assistant commissioner: Nikolai Molok