The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents the first comprehensive retrospective of Yuri Albert, one of the most prominent representatives of the Moscow conceptualism, now living between Moscow and Cologne.
The exhibition covers the artist’s multifaceted oeuvre since late 1970s—paintings, drawings, installations, documentation of performances and projects, solo works and those done as part of the Cupidon group. The retrospective, co-authored by the curator Ekaterina Degot, makes for an intersection of two exhibitions. It starts as curator’s show featuring only descriptive-interpretative texts about works by the curator and other authors, which take the actual work’s space on the walls or appear as projections or sound, depending upon the respective work’s medium. In the course of a month, Yuri Albert’s version of the exhibition will gradually appear, covering these texts, erasing them to leave the art works “bare”, while the interpretations migrate to the publication. What begins as a retrospective for initiated “art professionals” will turn into an exhibition “for collectors”; the necessity to imagine works by their description will give way to the longing for comments, now unavailable. In his works, Albert continually questions the conditions of art production and spectatorship. He proposes museum tours with eyes blindfolded or with a stone in the shoe, he copies volumes of artists’ letters by hand and translates descriptions of missing art works into Braille. His idea of art is, certainly, art as an idea, but this idea is a tangible part of everyday life: Albert’s work is rooted in the self-organized artistic practices of the Soviet 1970s, which had a unique historical chance to exist far beyond both market and institutions. For him, art is the ultimate universalist field, un-privatised and un-monetarised. Rather than addressing issues of acquisition and circulation, his institutional critique centers on notions of understanding and interpretation. Committed to the nihilist, avant-garde genealogy of contemporary art, Albert deeply believes into the condition of being disliked and misunderstood. However, he sees the emancipatory potential of art in what he calls its “elitist-democratic” nature.