Race against time: searching for a meeting or getting away from art in a museum?

Author: Natalia Smolianskaïa



Natalia Smolianskaïa is an artist, curator and philosopher of art specializing in the problems of institutional critique, the role of the avant-garde in the era of “surpassing art”, and the issues of actualizing art in modern condition. Together with a group of curators, she runs research projects Vojti I razreshit (To Enter and Permit) and Mesto iskusstva (The Place of Art). From 2007 to 2013 Smolianskaïa was the head of the research program dedicated to avant-garde theories and practices and the languages of art at the International College of Philosophy in Paris.

Two young men and a young woman running for dear life through the halls of the Louvre is a scene known not only to cinephiles but to many viewers around the world. The heroes run through the halls of the Louvre, virtually empty of visitors, but filled with rare, slowly moving figures, similar to mannequins, and clumsy caretakers who do not have time to react and do not even try to run after them. This creates a feeling of a connection between two worlds: people from another world, a world of movement and constant change, burst into the frozen aquarium space of the museum.


Why did the boys and the girl from Godard's black-and-white film[1] end up in the Louvre? The author comes up with a pretext, an allusion to the record set by someone before them. But if we imagine a film without this scene, it turns out that the storyline needs to go further, it needs a look from the outside

Forty years later, Bertolucci, remembering the plot of 1964, again filmed a run through the Louvre; this run, like most of the scenes in the movie Dreamers (2003), is a kind of reenactment, a reproduction and a recollection not of what has been experienced by the heroes, but of what has been seen in the cinema. Life goes on in dreams, and in the actual city, actions, the movement of life are there, outside the window of the apartment, behind the walls of the Cinemateca. But even these heroes "come out" of the frame built by "dreams" to run through the Louvre, to literally repeat that run from Godard’s film. And then they return to their world, behind the glass of which is May 1968 is seething. 


Paradoxically, for both the former and the latter, a run through the Louvre is an allusion to their attitude to social reality, which lives a parallel life with regulated conventions, as they still manage to jump out of it. The Louvre here embodies both the state and the art that exists within the framework of the museum, and the place of history in which we all seem to live.


Why, in order to "get out" of the frame, to create the feeling of a look from the outside, do the authors turn to the museum? Because probably the Louvre is just such a symbolic figure of a place and institution in one image. From a historical point of view it is the first public museum that opened the era of museums, the door to the 19th century at the end of the 18th century. Heroes burst into it to demolish a framework of established rules, despising ceremony and treasures on display. But, perhaps, this is not what it is all about? The Louvre, like many other large collections located in castles, is primarily a citadel of power, its representation.

Museum as a fortress


The museum initially grows out of a collection, albeit that of the most titled and/or crowned individuals. It accumulates all their experience and that of their family and environment in what we call today artifacts that served for all sorts of rituals and create a status: in other words, the representation of power. The film Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels[2], popular half a century ago, shows how the collection, which the smug owner explains to the king, evokes not respect, but rage. Angelica in the current at that time hierarchy is just a part, albeit the best, of the collection. The collections of the nobility determine the hierarchy in the public space of the Renaissance, where one competes for the right to order the imprinting from the most famous master taking place in a special atmosphere of restructuring of values, as evidenced by the rise in prices for art and the level of payment for artists' work.


The Louvre is both a castle and a fortress, and the quintessence of the museum history. Some exhibitions of the modern museum take place right in the middle of the cleared stone walls of its foundation. Therefore, a scene from a film with frozen figures refers to an already formed list of meanings, which is meant when the word "Louvre" is pronounced.


Are the contents of this frozen aquarium so unambiguously dead? Perhaps the opposition between youth, spontaneity and lifelessness of the established rules manifests itself precisely in those shots where the heroes run through the museum. They cannot stop, these are the conditions of the given game. And, according to these conditions, the museum is dead (there is no movement in it). The museum is perceived as a frozen academic knowledge by many artists, from the avant-garde to the present day. But it would be appropriate to highlight the optics through which they look at it. For example, how the presentation of the internal components of the art system in the museum (the autonomy of art) comes into conflict with the social character of the art institution. The institution, in this case, will include both the system of art production and the system of its consumption. An important component of the consumption system will be the public, which is usually defined as the "viewer".


On the other hand, running through the museum is a kind of oxymoron. Time is an obvious necessity for the initiation of an individual into a museum space. One of the initiators of the reactivation of the museum in the 80s, the philosopher Nelson Goodman, said that understanding art takes time, time to look at it, and that one must make the work of art function. In itself art does not emit any rays of knowledge, a knowledge (which is associated here with understanding) must be extracted. This is the "mission of the museum", civilizational and emancipating, according to the philosopher[3]. What has changed since then?


The phenomenon of the museum as a white cube is associated with the foundation of MoMA and the history of its architectural restructuring and improvement. Brian O'Doherty, an author of the famous book on the white cube, writes about creation of an ideal gallery space that distinguishes space as a separate category of artistic expression, focuses attention on the possibilities of perception and reveals the viewers who find themselves on the outside of the cube. In that respect, the modernist museum is the same fortress as the repository of the royal collection, its strategy being formed by the position of artistic autonomy: “The white cube is usually seen as an emblem of the estrangement of the artist from a society to which the gallery also provides access. It is a ghetto space, a survival compound, a proto-museum with a direct line to the timeless, a set of conditions, an attitude, a place deprived of location, a reflex to the bald curtain wall, a magic chamber, a concentration of mind, maybe a mistake”[4].


But history has its laws, and if the environment changes, then institutions are also rebuilt.


Museum as an institution


“The peculiarity of the museum as an institution is that the museum represents a collective memory selected by the society for preservation”, — says Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven[5]. “The museum selects, excludes, and puts many things in the foreground, at the same time, opposing the priority of certain objects, as well as the priority of certain social groups”.


The problem of choosing what needs to be preserved and what can be destroyed testifies to the difficult relationship of the museum as an institution with time. Focusing on the present, there is a revision of the past and the construction of the future. In general, this is nothing new. Both institutional theories of art and many artists linked the issue of the effectiveness of certain facts like facts of art (artifacts) with the recognition of their legitimacy by the professional community, and museums here have the most decisive voice. Ironically, describing this situation, the French artist Daniel Buren calls it the “mystical” function of the “privileged” place[6] and calls into question the very possibility of this kind of legitimation.

Today's contemporary art practitioners are appropriating the experience of the 1960s — early 1970s. Various areas of institutional criticism chose the line of consistent analysis of the art system, such as the same Buren, Haake, or The Art Worker's Coalition. At the same time, innovative projects for working with the audience emerged. An example is the educational program of Harvard University Project Zero, initiated by the philosopher, collector, and contemporary art actor Nelson Goodman[7].


The artists of the seventies criticized a museum, wishing to remove the sacredness from it, wrote about how to work with artists, and how they, the artists, see the dependence of the museum on the state, sponsors, and other patrons who, by giving funds for it, are trying to make us forget about their origins when visiting the museum. This position now seems utopian and impossible.

On the one hand, a museum is an institution that has all the features of a social institution, acting in cooperation with other institutions, performing certain power functions, and being at the crossroads of relations between society and history. On the other hand, it is a laboratory for experiments or an auditorium for gaining knowledge.


In this sense, the modernist museum, acting under the heading of the “white cube” has created conditions for working with the audience. Most of the innovations in exhibition practices of the twentieth century were carried out in the "white cube". The viewer is created simultaneously with the development of exhibition practices, including those of museums.


Contemporary criticism of the modernist museum is also based on the assumption that fetishism of a work of art is inherent in it, leaving no room for the creation of an active public. It does not meet the requirements of the present, which seeks to desacralize the museum and to get rid of the dominant systems of designation and expression. But the question of an active audience can also be viewed as a question of the spectator who came to observe and study with the teacher, as Jacques Rancière[8] has observed. It also contains a doubt: what does an “active” viewer mean, to what extent are her actions free from the influence of how information is presented and accents are placed? To understand how the "museum — artwork — viewer" system works, it is probably necessary to include the artist as a necessary activator of this system.


Museum as frame of an artwork and the perspectives of institutional critique


Critics of a modernist museum often imply that such a museum is indeed a fortress that needs to be destroyed, but sometimes important details are overlooked, for example, that a museum, like a painting, will be a frame for work. This is well illustrated by Buren in his text on the boundaries of cultural institutions: “The museum/gallery, contrary to what we are told, are not neutral places, but represent the only point of view for which the work is intended. To ignore it, or to take it for granted, the museum/gallery becomes a kind of mythical frame/deforming everything that fits into it"[9]. To destroy this frame means to create a precedent for going beyond neutrality, beyond the boundaries of institutions. That is, by destroying the institutional framework the artist resists ideological pressure and articulates new critical boundaries. 


The text was written in 1970. In 1971 Buren's most famous action took place, embodying his idea of ​​institutional criticism, — the intervention in the Guggenheim Museum, at the VI Guggenheim International Exhibition. The artist proposed to exhibit two canvases inside and outside the museum, and the inside 20 m long and 10 m wide canvas passed from above down through the spiraling floors. If, as Buren notes[10], the frame of the museum is most often a box, a cube, then in the case of the architectural features of the Guggenheim spiral structure, the works are not separated from each other by the walls of the inner boxes. They avoid the classification that is developed when the works are placed in the halls, demonstrating the absolute power of the museum overall its contents. In other words, the museum/gallery reveals works within its walls/boxes. Within these walls, the works are legitimate, endowed with artistic value, these frames create a sacred veil around the work of art. The artwork appears when the museum disappears, although the disappearance of the museum around the artwork and inside the box walls is illusory.


Moments of desacralization of the museum at each of the stages (the formation of the publicity of the museum space, criticism of the museum as an institution and as a factor of the conservatism in art) coincide with a change in art and society, with local features being more and more erased. At the same time, institutional criticism from the very beginning in the 1960s and 70s became an artistic strategy. As a result, new ways of working with space appeared, and the outlook on the exhibition changed. Something similar happened in the 2000s and 2010s when criticism of the "white cube" led to the emergence of "museum" artistic practices. One of the examples is the exhibitions of Arseny Zhilyaev, who chose to work with the museum as an author’s and critical methodology. In this context, we are working with the very form of the museum space, its complexity. We can also talk about the rethinking of the exhibition dispositif, referring to the terminology of Michel Foucault[11]. That is, what is shown must be manifested in "how", while the connections that arise between the various elements matter. If we go back to the beginning, the escape from the museum "framework", the attempt to oppose the institutional and the living, free from conventions, then the framework now often acquires a formal character, and the utterance is built on top of the framework. In other words, it is not about destroying them, and how you can work with them.


What happens to institutional criticism in this context? In the place of criticism of the art system comes a more complex critical approach that includes (or claims to include) the viewer. It is this situation that we tried to illustrate in the texts of this issue. The viewer's place was chosen as the main reference point. Where is the place of the viewer in the era of museum globalization? From the museum as a fortress, an institution, a framework where a work of art is created, we come to a situation where, on the one hand, this framework does not disappear anywhere because institutions remain, and not only remain but become stronger. On the other hand, the viewer appears as an actor in the museum cultural policy.



Cognitive capitalism and the globalization of museums:

looking for an alternative


On the one hand, the museum as an institution, a frame for a work of art and the viewer as an actor in the art system set the focus of the publicity of the museum space. That is, what kind of dialogue is possible inside the museum? On the other hand, the position of the viewer in relation to this frame remains unclear. The question is: How the viewer is able to build a critical distance to the museum, to what extent the museum controls the viewer? At this time, the museum is not the only place for the creation of art. So, how does everything that happens to the museum affect the general situation in the art system? In this issue of the Place of Art journal, the general situation is examined through the prism of concentration of the museum mass among other places of art, not because of the increase in the number of museums, but as a result of the growth of existing ones. We call this situation a “museum globalization”.


Globalization in the most general sense is associated with a very high speed of communication, accessibility of space, changes in understanding and practical exploration of space and time. Sometimes this term is replaced by "universalization". It more accurately characterizes the changes that have taken place: something is happening that looks like a universal alignment with a single standard, which is most often determined by the place of formation of this standard: the United States, the European countries of the Big Seven. The trend has been around for a long time. Back in the eighties, it was often associated with "cognitive capitalism"[12]. It is clear from the definition itself that the emphasis is on the influence of an increasing level of concentration of capital on the production of knowledge[13]. Art, museums in particular, will not be an exception. The concept of cognitive capitalism proposes to rely on the historical scale and the conflictual relationship between the two terms that make it up[14]. Knowledge is considered, in this case, as a privileged object of private appropriation. The biggest problem of cognitive capitalism, according to Gorz, is determined by the intangible nature of knowledge, which conflicts with the financial value of its product. 


Criticism of cognitive capitalism is also associated with the rethinking of culture, since culture largely determines the nature of an intangible product: knowledge. Moreover, the very nature of new technologies and various types of knowledge included in the field of art also affects the increasing importance of cultural products in the general production. One should bear in mind that the price is determined differently in the context of digital replication capabilities[15]. The main issue of distinguishing between art and non-art is now shifting towards a comprehensive analysis of creativity. In this case, cognitive capitalism creates an audience that participates in creating “market value” for products that industrial capitalism[16] did not have. Among such products, one of the important places is occupied by museums, exhibitions, especially best-selling exhibitions, theatrical performances, and various initiatives of local clubs that include collective art practices. In that respect, the practices of democratizing art are included in the production of cognitive capital. What can institutional criticism offer in this case? Perhaps the new institutionalism, as Alex Farquharson[17] describes it, referring to the practices of curator Charles Esche, focused more on community building practices than exhibitions.



The museum as methodology


Charles Esche is one of the most prominent museum politicians, and is also known for curating exhibitions in Russia. It is no accident that his article on institutions, together with the texts of Evgenii Barabanov, Arseny Zhilyaev, and other authors, forms the core of this issue. Here such important questions are considered: what does “museum” mean for an artist, and what does it mean for a viewer, where do the vectors of consideration converge, where do they diverge. If Esche and Zhilyaev represent, each in their way, a criticism of the modernist museum, then Evgenii Barabanov's article deals with the focus of interest in the museum, dating back to the avant-garde. Both Esche and Zhilyaev are interested in avant-garde models for museum construction.


Barabanov's article deals with the avant-garde artists focus on themselves, on building their genealogy, which is necessary to find the meaning of artistic works. Moreover, this work is primarily a research, a laboratory. The article focuses on the issues that occupied the founders of the MPC[18], which can be presented as future (unrealized) directions of museum policy, artistic and historical research of the museum collection, and the development of new types of work with them.


In the early Soviet years, a unique opportunity arose to create new museum institutes under the guidance of artists. The viewer here is first of all the artist. This is the history of the Museum of Painterly Culture. Its reconstruction became the subject of the List No. 1 exhibition at the New Tretyakov Gallery[19]. Interestingly, analyzing the MPC, the American researcher D. Kan notes that the artists "sought to find a kind of refuge within the walls of their museum and largely ignored the Soviet educational policy aimed at mass education and did not encourage the development of innovative art forms"[20]. The museum reform of the avant-garde was, in this context, initiated by artists to promote certain artistic ideas (avant-garde): that is, the artists are focused on themselves and their problems. Barabanov's article, on the other hand, shows that this is the visible part of the question, and the main problem is how the work of a new type of museum with history developed. This is the question of the framework of art and the institution that builds its typology, so that the tradition of dividing art into "Western" and "domestic", into "old" and "new" is broken, and a line of inheritance is built.


An attempt to demonstrate this line of laboratory research of the avant-garde in the New Tretyakov Gallery showed that almost a century later this experience remains insufficiently studied. Articles by Konstantin Dudakov and Elena Milanovskaya are two views on this exhibition. Allowing the same event to be seen from two perspectives, the Place of Art group continues its policy of creating a platform for dialogue and polyvalent statements, declared in the first issue.


The experience of the avant-garde is the subject of a metadiscourse for the artistic methodology and conceptual justification of Arseny Zhilyaev and the material for the museum and curatorial work of Charles Esche since the Van Abbemuseum collection is full of works of the “Russian avant-garde”. But the understanding of the problems of art is completely different from that of the actors of the avant-garde. It imposes its theoretical grids on the ideas of the avant-garde, based on various ideas of the late 20th century, including cognitive capitalism.


Esche is a modernizer of the museum of modern art, although he probably would not have liked the use of a term with the root "modern" because Esche's museum policy is to criticize the modernist museum as a model for a museum in the era of globalization. Esche seeks to create situations of interaction in the museum, to show the “impotence” of institutions that want a “progressive” vision without interaction with those who come to the exhibitions, without interaction with artists. It is the latter, according to Esche, who will have to find those “creative” ways of interaction that will give the new cultural institutions an advantage over standard institutions operating according to schemes designed for a wide mass audience. In this case, a special role is assigned to the local audience. 


Esche's criticism of universalism is also associated with criticism of the idea of ​​progress; he prefers to present this idea as a utopia, such a popular strategy for the cultural field of the 1990s. The factor of belonging to a certain circle of intellectuals also plays a role here[21], among which criticism of cognitive capitalism is associated with criticism of European rationality, which originates from the ideas of the Enlightenment, and therefore, progress. It is no coincidence that Esche is the author of the concept and the main curator of the exhibition Utopia and Reality. El Lissitzky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, which took place at the Van Abbemuseum, the Hermitage, and MMAM (2013)[22]. Despite criticism of the ideas of progress and the Russian Revolution, Esche managed to convey admiration for the artist, whose "creative act" "can shape society and change the way of thinking"[23]. 


This is the contradiction in Esche’s position himself. Since he wanted to change the way of thinking, to include artistic strategies in the creation of a new everyday life, he also insisted on the antithesis "emotional knowledge and empathy versus rationalism", the paradoxical combination of which characterized the avant-garde, which combined constructiveness thinking and special sensory perception. Charles Esche's criticism of modern models of neoliberal understanding of capitalism in the form of a modernist museum, assimilated by oligarchic capital, coexists with a denial of the pathos of the Enlightenment, although criticism of progress does not help plans for creating the future.


Arseny Zhilyaev found his artistic expression in the form of the construction of a museum, moreover a museum that speaks about the revision of exhibition practice. Starting with the exhibition Machine and Natasha (2009, CCI Fabrika), he drew on the experience of avant-garde and modernism to offer a critical concept of modernity, working as a metadiscourse based on the artifacts created by the artist. Starting his way in art with criticism of cognitive capitalism and turning to the issue of immaterial labor in Machine and Natasha, Zhilyaev operates with a critical apparatus that distinguishes him in the field of contemporary Russian art. On the one hand, he uses for this material the gold fund of this art associated with the "Russian avant-garde" and, more precisely, the "production art" popularized thanks to the book of the American researcher Maria Gough[24]. On the other hand, he is inspired by the experience of Marxist sociologist Fedorov-Davydov. This experience answers to that metadiscursive technique of the commentary introduced by Ilya Kabakov and, to some extent, Collective Actions group of the 1970s, which became the basis for imitation by young artists of the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) circle. Among thegraduates of the latter, it was Arseny Zhilyaev who singled out such correspondences, building his strategy on this foundation. 


Both Charles Esche and Arseny Zhilyaev's designs see the main task of the museum as creating a context for the material used, and the very fact of art’s realization is considered based on its social function. But if for a museum in Eindhoven the task is to activate the material of the avant-garde and, on the other, to create socially significant art and a community of active users of a new type of museum, then for Zhilyaev it is important to create his narrative and build the situation as a model for combining art and life.



Museums of the future


In order to know how museums evolve, how a fortress is transformed into a house for the viewer and artist, and how the institution opens up opportunities not only for the past but also for the present, how life around it flows into the museum and destroys the barriers between people and art, we invited employees of leading museums in Moscow for a discussion. This issue begins as follows. The Museum's Viewpoints section consists of the recordings of two meetings: one with the staff of the State Tretyakov Gallery (then Deputy Director-General for Development Tatiana Mrdulyash and Head of the Contemporary Art Department Irina Gorlova) and one with the staff of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Deputy Director Ilya Doronchenkov and head of the Department of Film and Media Art Olga Shishko).


Questions about how the dispositif combining power and knowledge manifests itself in the museum, how each museum tried to overcome this connection by claiming the museum emancipation were not always understood, but allowed us to show the need for institutional criticism and new institutionalism in our situation. At the same time they also showed that large museum institutions in the Russian Federation and elsewhere are not just buildings and installations inheriting modernism or the ideal of a nineteenth-century museum, but primarily people, specialists who work there. Therefore, we can overcome the power-knowledge dispositif and vertical dependence only on condition that the specialists working in the museum are aware of their direct participation in this structure of connections.


The questions of how the art exists in the museum and how the museum works “as a frame” are related to how the exposition is built and, here, the representatives of the Tretyakov Gallery were asked many “inconvenient” questions. As a result, a lively and raw dispute ensued, exposing some of the difficulties as well as possible avenues for further discussions on how difficult it is for such a huge organism as the Tretyakov Gallery to work in so many respects with modernity. The efforts of some enthusiasts are not enough.

However, the restructuring of museum policy associated with the consolidation of existing institutions is impossible without knowing ​​what the museum of the future is like. Representatives of the Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum have different hopes for the future. In the Pushkin Museum they are mainly associated with the introduction of modernity, which is associated with the upbringing of a new participant in the museum process, with the attraction of new technologies and the possibilities of contemporary art. For the Tretyakov Gallery they are associated with the expansion of the territory, with the difficult work of incorporating contemporary art into the museum's permanent collection. There was a great discussion about the difficulties, but the question of the future remains open. There is one more question, which in the context of the given trajectory includes the viewer. Where is the place of the viewer in the cultural policy of the museum? Since we omitted this discussion within the framework of the conversation with the museums, we included two more sections of the conversation about the viewer.



The viewer as a subject of research


It is characteristic that the conversation about the viewer becomes important in the era of the growth. Both growth in the number of museums and the attention to the viewer's position may be due not to cause-and-effect relationships, but to the fact that in the era of cognitive capitalism, relationships built in a sprawling cultural sector of production are monetized. Therefore, such a variety of museums corresponds to the general nature of the changes taking place in society, with the viewer becoming especially necessary as an active user. On the other hand, critical thinking, updated by the nonlinear approaches of actors who do not fit into one sociocultural field, but capture several territories at once, such as Guy Debord, for example, opened up new areas of discussion, at the intersection of the relationship between art and public action, between philosophy and the practice of everyday life. The inclusion of everyday life in itself cannot be imagined without thinking about who creates this everyday life. The living image of young people running around the museum is by definition incompatible with the frozen one of the museum. Therefore, there are strategies for revising the work with the museum, with the audience. Charles Esche is one such innovator in the museum's collection activation policy.


Having asked a question about the viewer in the context of domestic exhibitions, we turned to the experience of the 17th Exhibition for Young Art[25], which has not yet been studied sufficiently of an artistic event that is important in the history of the development of our contemporary art. Therefore, in the section devoted to the study of the viewer, one can read an interview with Anatoly Golubovsky, who, together with Leonid Nevler, conducted a sociological study of the viewer. Never before or after has there been such thoughtful research. Unfortunately, Nevler's decease did not allow us to expand on the intended conversation. However, the existing text allows us to think about where the boundaries of research are, and where the artistic practice of working with the audience begins.


Sociologist Alisa Maximova continues the conversation about how sociological polls generally help research, and what strategies are possible. Alexandra Kiseleva tells how the local exhibition hall (Peresvetov Pereulok gallery) works with the audience. And, finally, the question of the viewer is especially acute when visiting a museum. The project participants walked through the permanent exhibition of 20th-century art of the New Tretyakov Gallery and, as a result, asked the question: are museums still interested in their audience?

Our issue ends with a section that brings access to new levels of discussion: viewer between control and contingency. Moreover, in a conversation with members of the self-organized art groups Vystavka v kustah (Art Exhibit in the bushes), Starting point — forest (Pobegi), and Dungeons&Stuff, the question about the viewer included at the same time the question about the artist. The fact is that since the history of Russian art developed its paths determined by the "power-knowledge" vertical, where artist found herself in the situation of the framed person — depending on whether she was included or not in the field of visibility — then the desire to get into this field deprived her of the necessary critical position in this field. This has not changed or has changed very little after the general situation changed in the 90s. The past thirty years, it would seem, could have changed the artist's view, but even now the critical position is often expressed in the practices of escapism. Others, of course, were internally and differently saturated than before, but the field of visibility of these practices remains even more hidden. Moreover, the question of the artist is somehow even less of interest to the museum institutions than the question of the viewer. Perhaps this question will be our next topic because it is obvious that the viewer is also a derivative of this complex relationship. Note that two of the three art groups are no longer active.


So, how does the viewer get out of the control zone? Running out of the frame (museum) in pursuit of — new emotions, meetings? — even in a moment ... Natalia Prikhodko offers to peer into some experiments that take place on a different stage than in exhibition spaces. The films Prison Architect and Dau propose to reconsider the separation between mediums, since they include both installation moments and different optics consideration, and provide the ability to move while viewing. Of course, this search for a way out of the control zone over the viewer is rather arbitrary, but without such experiences, without discussing the problem, without criticism from within and from the outside, it would probably be difficult to imagine the emancipation of the viewer ...



1. Bande à part, 1964. Dir. by J.-L. Godard.


2.Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, 1964. Dir. by Bernard Borderie.


3. Goodman N. Of Mind and Other Matters. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1984. P. 105.


4.O'Doherty B. Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space. Santa Monica: Lapis Press, 1986. P. 80.


5. Charles Esche about Museum of Arte Útil exhibition (initiated by Tania Bruguera) at the Van Abbemuseum. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr9j7MhPXuU&t=2s


6.“The Museum/Gallery instantly promotes to “Art” status what it exhibits with conviction, i.e. habit, thus diverting in advance any attempt to question the foundations of art without taking into consideration the place from which the question is put. The Museum (the Gallery) constitutes the mystical body of Art”. Buren D. Function of the Museum // Theories of contemporary art (Richard Hertz ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1985. P. 189.


7. The program has been in operation since 1968, it does not focus only on the facts of art, but presents a broader educational research strategy. More about the program: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/who-we-are/about 


8. Rancière J. Le maître ignorant. Cinq leçons sur l'émancipation intellectuelle. Paris: Fayard, 1983 (in French).


9. Buren D. Limites critiques // Les Ecrits. 1965—1990, in 3 vol. Vol. 1. Bordeaux: CAPC Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux. 1991. P. 181 (transl. from French by Natalia Smolianskaïa).


10.  Buren D. Absence-présence, autour d’un détour // Ibid. P. 209—210.


11. The word appears for the first time in his seminars at the College de France in 1978.

See Foucault M. Sécurité, territoire, population (1977—1978). Paris: Gallimard, 2004 (in French).

In his text, Foucault defines a “dispositif” (apparatus) as a heterogeneous ensemble that includes discourses, institutions, architectural complexes, regulations, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical assumptions, morality, philanthropic facts — said and not said. See Foucault M. Dits et écrits. Tome II. Paris: Gallimard, 1994. P. 299 (in French).


12. Gorz A. Adieux au prolétariat. Au-delà du socialisme. Paris: Galilée, 1980; Gorz A. Métamorphoses du travail. Quête du sens — Critique de la raison économique. Paris: Galilée, 1988 (in French).


13.Theorists who adhere to the term "cognitive capitalism": Andrea Fumagalli, Carlo Vercellone, Bernard Paulré. André Gorz analyzed "cognitive capitalism" from a neo-Marxist point of view, he believed that the importance of work becomes less and less with a change in its nature, therefore one of the most important works of Gorz is devoted to "immaterial" labor (Gorz A. The Immaterial: Knowledge, Value and Capital. London, New York: Seagull Books, 2010). 



14.Vercellone C. Cybercommunisme et capitalisme cognitif // Variations. 2019. № 22. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/variations/998 (in French).


15.Lévy P. L’intelligence collective. Paris: La Découverte, 1994; Gorz A. L’immatériel, connaissance, valeur et capital. Paris: Galilée, 2002 (in French).


16. Moulier-Boutang Y. Art et capitalisme cognitif // L'Observatoire. 2010. № 3. P. 43—48 (in French).


17. Farquharson А. Institutional habits // Moscow Art Magazine. 2012. №8. URL: http://moscowartmagazine.com/issue/9/article/115 (In Russian).


18.The Museum of Painterly Culture (MPC) is one of two museums (with the Museum of Artistic Culture), which arose from the idea of ​​ museum reconstruction proposed by avant-garde artists, whose strategies were formulated at the Museum Conference in 1919 (Petrograd). The museums were built on the purchases made by contemporary artists and aimed to display new methods of contemporary creativity. Since 1919, the purchasing commission was headed by Kandinsky. In 1920—1921 he became the head of the Museum. Since 1921, this post has been held by Rodchenko. The first public exposition of the MPC took place on 06.10.1920. In 1922, the Museum was divided into an Exposition Department and a Research Department. In turn, the Exposition Department was divided into two groups: volumetric (Konchalovsky, Lentulov, Exter, Popova, Udaltsova, Rozanova, Malevich, that is, from Cezanneists to cubo-futurists) and flat (Mashkov, Goncharova, Grishchenko, Shterenberg, Larionov, Strzheminsky, Kandinsky, Malevich, Kliun, Rodchenko, Rozanova, Tatlin). The Research Department included formal-theoretical department (Kliun's studies “color on flat”, “color and light”, “color and form”, suprematist studies of simple forms) and Analytical Cabinet under the direction of S. B. Nikritin (method of studying a painting, historical phases in development of painting, the relationship between the nature of color and sound, etc.) The work of the Museum of Painterly Culture was largely associated with the activities of Inkhuk (Institute of Artistic Culture, which in 1922 occupied the same building with the Museum). 12.22.1928 MPC was closed.


19. Exhibition Avant-garde. List No. 1 (Eng. title: Museum of Pictorial Culture. To the 100th Anniversary of the First Museum of Contemporary Art) dedicated to the centenary of the MPC took place in the New Tretyakov Gallery from 23.10.2019 to 23.02.2020. Curator L. R. Pchelkina. At the exhibition, there was a possible reconstruction of the List No. 1 — list of works of art assigned to transfer to the Tretyakov Gallery and other museums (1929).


20. Kan D. Contemporary Western museum theory: What can it say about Russian museums of the Revolution era and about contemporary museum studies? // Russian avant-garde: problems of representation and interpretation. SPb: Palace Editions, 2001. P. 47 (In Russian).


21. These thinkers include Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe.


22.  The exhibition became the best exposition of Lissitzky in our country, who was unlucky with the display of his works in Russia. Despite the two-part exposition in the New Tretyakov Gallery and the Jewish Museum (2017), these exhibitions became not complementary to each other, but indistinct repetition and had lack of explicitness, connection between the artist's life and his works, his theoretical constructions and work with space.


23.  Utopia and Reality: El Lissitzky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Catalog. SPb: 2013. P. 12.



24.  Gough M. The Artist as Producer: Russian Constructivism in Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005..


25. In 1986, the 17th reporting exhibition of the youth section of the Moscow Union of Artists of the RSFSR was held in Moscow, curated by Daniil Dondurey and Georgy Nikich. It was this regular review of the Moscow branch of the Union of Artists of the RSFSR that became a turning point in the history of exhibition practice of contemporary art. The 17th Exhibition for Young Art has radically changed the idea of what an exhibition of contemporary art should be and what role its organizer plays. The exhibition showed art that had always been underground before, and its authors — young artists — who suddenly had the opportunity to come out of the underground and become active actors in the Moscow art community.