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The video archive contains materials about the work of Moscow contemporary artists in the West and in Moscow from 1989 to 2014. It includes footage of 228 exhibitions. The video archive is the personal initiative of the artist Vadim Zakharov and forms part of his oeuvre. The choice of artists and exhibitions was dictated by Zakharov’s circle and his interests. Some of the material is filmed spontaneously, quickly and incompletely. Other exhibitions are documented with bureaucratic scrupulousness. On each occasion, it is as if one part of the artistarchivist dualism overcame the other. Zakharov apologizes to those whose material was shot by the “artist,” and accepts the thanks of those filmed by the “bureaucrat/documentary maker.”




“Artist Vadim Zakharov’s video archive—produced over the last 25 years—offers a unique overview of the Moscow Conceptualists, as well as their predecessors and immediate successors, through recording the exhibitions in Moscow and the West that made public the protagonists who formed this community.

Charting the first shows of these underground Russian artists during perestroika—when the boom of interest came from the West—through to the emergence of the post-Soviet condition, wherein the community both came of age and fractured, the Archive includes documentation of over 230 solo and group exhibitions that took place in Russia and abroad from 1989 to 2014. With footage of more than 180 shows that took place in cities such as Paris, Cologne, New York, Rome, Milan, and Berlin, the archive offers an unprecedented, nuanced, and singular view of an era when exhibition-making became the central lens through which artists could communicate with an audience they otherwise had little opportunity to connect with.

Zakharov relocated to Moscow in 1979 to become one of the youngest of the Moscow Conceptualist circle. He acquired his first camcorder in 1988, and a year later decided that it was a tool not only to make his own work but also to document his own experiences in relation to his friends and close colleagues. He was a person who understood the freedom of art as a situation wherein he had many choices—rather than waiting for someone else to record or produce the mechanisms through which artists are historicized, for example, his instinct as an insider was to take control of those functions—becoming both a participant and a witness to the rise, demise, and new-found strategies through which artists from his cohort could express themselves. As philosopher Boris Groys points out, “Vadim Zakharov takes on all the jobs offered by the art system—artist, curator, critic, designer, publisher, biographer, archivist, documentary filmmaker, historian, and interpreter”*—to affirm his cultural autonomy.”

            (Kate Fowle is chief curator at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow)

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