Re-reading “Conceptual Art and Eastern Europe” by Zdenka Badovinac. In the text Charles Harrison talks about how “Conceptual art is the collapse of the boundary between artistic and theoretical practice, the idea that theoretical practice might be a primary artistic practice” (This sounds very similar to Boris Groys writes about in “In the Flow”). While reading a critical idea came to mind: Theory is something which validity can be tested. This indicates that the conceptual art of late 70ties was a prelude to art as a social practice which aspires to have a positive impact in the communities it addresses (aka. art utilized to build wellbeing in communities). Art & Language style conceptual art is embedded with a profit target!
A revealing part of the text is were Groys identifies how the seemingly un-political art made by soviet-artist Kabakov, Komar & Melamid, which was not against the regime (it was “non-pro, non-con, non-anti”) – Was actually an aggressive deconstructivist practice. The movement declined to build its credibility by celebrating the underdog position avantgarde is shoved into. Because the works weren’t ideologically against or with the regime they forced the audiences to interpret the works from a perspective which was outside the systems boundaries and control.
Groys says: “We were deconstructionists and didn’t want to be politically engaged, since this could somehow be a trap, when people took precisely the positions power wanted them to take—even if it is a dissident position. So we tried to escape this kind of framework—not to find a place within it as dissidents, but to question it, to escape the entire ideological framework.”.
Cristina Freire explains how the notion of an artist differs in Latin America and the West: “… idea of participation, which Hélio Oiticica was really into, meant that it was very important to not be an artist. The idea of an autonomous work of art really didn’t matter at all”. A very important point she makes is that: “When Latin American artists from this period are discussed in the West, they are assimilated into Western art history. “.