The Soviet Union as Conceptual Paradise. Moscow ‘Existential’ Conceptualism and Other Oddities

Lecture by Inke Arns
December 10th, 2009

from the series of lectures “Conceptual Paradise. Artistic Practice in the Age of the Social Web”

Conceptual art in the Soviet Union? Did that really exist? And if so, how did it work? In her lecture, Inke Arns addresses a few outstanding representatives of the Moscow ‘existential’ conceptualism (Ilya Kabakov, Collective Actions, and others) and analyses their artistic strategies in a political and social context which could itself be described as a ‘conceptual paradise’.

Since the 1990s, author and curator Inke Arns (born 1968 in Berlin) has been organising various exhibitions and conferences on international media art, net cultures, and Eastern Europe. This was also the subject of her doctoral dissertation “Objects in the Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear: Die Avantgarde im Rueckspiegel” (2004), which explores the paradigm shift in the reception of the historical avant-garde and the notion of utopias in (media)-artistic projects of the 1980s and 1990s in the former Yugoslavia and Russia.

Since January 2005, Inke Arns has been artistic director of Hartware MedienKunstVerein in Dortmund. She is co-founder of various networks and initiatives on media culture, such as ‘mikro’, an association to foster media cultures (1988) and ‘Spectre’, a mailing list for media culture in Deep Europe. She has held numerous positions: 2000-2001 lecturer at the Department of Slavic Studies, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin; 2002-2004 visiting lecturer at Hochschule fuer Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig; 2005 external examiner at the Department for New Media, Hochschule fuer Gestaltung und Kunst (HGK) Zurich; 2007 external examiner at the Piet Zwart Institut (Media Design), Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam; 2008 external jury member, Diploma for Media Arts, Zuercher Hochschule der Kuenste (ZHdK); 2008 lecturer in the MA Fine Arts course, Zuercher Hochschule der Kuenste (ZHdK). She has also participated in various symposia, in club transmediale (Berlin 2009), Ars Electronica (Linz 2004), and she has also lectured at the Tate Modern (London 2005).