The Moscow Conceptualist, or Russian Conceptualist, movement began with the Sots art of Komar and Melamid in the early 1970s, and continued as a trend in Russian art into the 1980s. It attempted to subvert socialist ideology using the strategies of conceptual art and appropriation art.
Mikhail Epstein, in After the Future: The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture (1995) explains why conceptualism is particularly appropriate to the culture and history of Russia, but also how it differs from Western Conceptualism:
"In the West, conceptualism substitutes "one thing for another"--a real object for its verbal description. But in Russia the object that should be replaced is simply absent.”
Epstein (1995) quotes Ilya Kabakov:
“This contiguity, closeness, touchingness, contact with nothing, emptiness makes up, we feel, the basic peculiarity of 'Russian conceptualism'... It is like something that hangs in the air, a self-reliant thing, like a fantastic construction, connected to nothing, with its roots in nothing... So, then, we can say that our own local thinking, from the very beginning in fact, could have been called 'conceptualism'.”
Epstein, Mikhail: After the Future: The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture, Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.
- Moscow Conceptualism. Russian Conceptual Art
- MOSCOW CONCEPTUALISM PRESENTED BY VADIM ZAKHAROV
- e-flux journal #29