I do not complain

Art group «Collective Actions» with the ideologist and creator acting by Andrey Monastirsky, one of the key figures of Moscow conceptualism who represented Russia at the Venice Biennale in 2011, appeared in 1976 and exists till present. Many well-known Moscow artists, poets, writers, critics and musicians of 70s and 80s attented it as participants or spectators so shame on you if you don’t know about it. «Collective actions» organized more than 120 performances and collected about 10 volumes of documentation «Trips out of town», which in some sense is a study of the history of development of Russian contemporary art.

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Described action really took place in the countryside in January 26, 1977 — in the suburban forest between trees the red fabric was hung. The inscription on it told stray traveller: «I do not complain about anything and I do really like everything despite that I have never been here and know nothing about these areas». This is a quote from Monastirsky’s book «Nothing happens» as a direct speech.

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In 1978, but already in April, there was a similar action on the riverbank, the kind of reinactment. The dark blue big cloth said: “It is strange why I used to lie to myself that I had never been here and knew nothing about this areas — the fact is that actually this place is like any place, but you feel this deeper and misunderstand this deeper».

 Actions were named Slogan-1977 and Slogan-1978, which certainly means the manifestation of some political ideas, but who is the audience of it? No one could see it in such an abandoned place in a hundred kilometers far from the city especially in January. This sensual gesture could not be appreciated by anyone. The truth is that this partly comical hard-to-reach quotes deep in the woods could remind some of the strangers who suddenly come across it of Zen practices but more likely they would be crushed by the sudden feeling of the existential emptiness. The context of the cold deserted winter landscape puts the stranger face to face with his feelings and bone-structured trees. Stillness of the area and a kind of the confession hung between branches impress and induce a simple reaction — silent horror of nonexistence. This is a nature of the art of action — it only works when the audience is present.

Polina Brzhezinskaya

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