Oral history

Artist Oral History

The participants of the project interview the actors of the artistic process from 1986. Stories of the witnesses as well as participants of the Moscow art scene allow us not only to look at the exhibitions from different points of view and follow the connections between the actors but also to make the contexts, which are usually outside the scope of contemporary research, visible.


Historians understand oral history as a method of biographical interviews with professional and prepared interviewers. During the interview, we usually get an idea of the interviewee`s life and career path. Moreover, oral history often allows us to preserve the evidence of important historical events or shows how the life of one person can tell us a lot about the whole epoch. 


Art museums adapt the oral history according to their own goals using it as a method of the interview, different from the journalistic material or professional discussion. For instance, MOMA collects the oral history archive to fill the gaps in the documentary material of the museum archive. The stories of artists, museum architects, donors, and curators create a more complete picture of the MOMA history. Moreover, this archive covers the period from 1987 to 2016, meaning the museum researchers also work with the recent history of the museum.


"Place of art" project turns to oral history as a means of studying the exhibition process. Due to the interviews with artists, curators, viewers, and critics we can consider the history of exhibitions as a dynamic process. Also, oral histories combine the personal view of the witnesses with more complex social and political contexts. 


The project focuses on the stories about the important artistic events of the 1980 — 2000s. The stories are structured by the spaces and events the interviewees talk about, thus, making the Moscow map of places of art visible. The Oral History part aims to create the history of contemporary art which requires the distance towards the artistic process. So, contemporary exhibitions are considered in other parts of the project, including Interviews and Texts.