Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

David Crowley [Biography]
Archiving the Infra-Ordinary in Late Socialism


In the mid 1980s researchers in Moscow – including philosopher Mikhail Epstein – investigated the rise of religious sects amongst Soviet intelligentsia, citizens of a society which had declared its commitment to atheism. The project resulted in an archive and “reference manual” documenting “New Sectarianism”: the esoteric beliefs of physicists who, for instance, attributed special meaning to light; or philologists who saw divine meaning in particular words.
In this talk, David Crowley approaches Epstein’s manual as a guide to the “post-atheistic religiosity” of Soviet artists in the 1970s and 1980s. Sharing a fascination with what might be called “bureaucratic aesthetics”, Viktor Pivovarov, Ilya Kabakov and Andrei Monastyrski among others, acted as archivists of the ordinary. However the ordinary did not mean the mundane: even the most unremarkable Soviet things seemed capable of what Pivovarov called “sacralization”.