ILIA OBUKHOV in conversation with Julia Nyman and Katja Stecher

What is the place of Russian Avant-garde in the history of Performance Art development? How can Avant-garde strategies be inherited by Contemporary Art and Curating?

Nowаdays Performance Art is often regarded as an essential part of the whole Contemporary Art scene and is becoming a quickly evolving art trend being still a rather young medium. The start of Performance is considered to date back to intensive Avant-garde experiments of the 1910s. One of innovative cross–disciplinary phenomena, which introduced the new performance medium, was the Russian Avant-garde. It focused on renewing art and broadened the traditional art conventions by entering the public sphere to engage the audience. Challenging public lectures, provocative happenings and radical theater stage acts were an integral part of Avant-garde Art expanding entertainment and cultural effects.

The Russian Avant-garde Performance also served as an effective promotional tool bringing in and enlarging mass audience. This concept of engaging marked the beginning of Participatory Art. To attract the public attention, Russian artists like Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Larionov and Ilia Zdanevich applied to various tactics from simple jokes to scandals. Participation was one of the essential features of Russian Avant-garde Performance Art, which modified traditional scholar approaches.

Thus, the talk will focus on the very first examples of Participatory Art by introducing the Futuristiс Opera “Victory over the Sun”, the project “Futuristic Make-up” and other breaking new performative projects. By analyzing the methods and strategies of Russian Avant-garde, we will try to trace some links to today’s artistic and curatorial practices.

Ilia Obukhov is a PhD student at Saint Petersburg State Stieglitz Art and Industry Academy writing a thesis on “The Performance Art of Russian Avant-garde”. In May 2013 he graduated the Department of Art History at Stieglitz Art Academy. Now he works as a coordinator at ROSPHOTO – State Russian Museum and Exhibition Photography Centre. In July-September 2013 worked as an intern in the Contemporary Art Department of the State Hermitage Museum where assisted in the curatorial process of an exhibition “Fluxus: Russian Atlases”. In September-December 2013 was a coordinator of an English-speaking Workshop “Who is Speaking? The Museum as a Public Sphere” organized by Nora Sternfeld (CuMMA course, Aalto University) on the base of exhibitions at the State Hermitage Museum. In July 2012 gave 4 lectures on a subject “The History of Russian Avant-Garde Art” at Global Point Communication Agency. The main spheres of interest lie in Russian Avant-Garde and the History of Performance Art.