Boris Groys on Conceptualism, Postmodernism and the Future

Boris Groys*

The Day (День) recently published an interview with art historian/ theorist/ professor/ philosopher Boris Groys. Groys   is one of the key voices in the academic debate over Soviet art. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia that summarizes his position:

“Western thinkers such as Clement Greenberg had criticized socialist art, especially socialist realism, for being mass art and made it an aesthetic taboo. Groys re-evaluated socialist art production, challenging the norms of aesthetics by pushing a thesis based on Walter Benjamin in the very interpretation of politics, claiming that modernism had survived in the “total artwork” […] of Stalinism.”

Greenberg and other early advocates for Abstract Expressionism cast Socialist Realism as the ultimate anti-modern tendency. Groys was one of the first to begin complicating our understanding of Soviet art. As Groys so clearly recognizes, the deconstruction of Western art vs. Soviet art is an inevitable consequence of the end of the Cold War:

“Putin’s Russia, just as today’s America and France, and the entire world, is in state of transition from the ‘cold war,’ where everything is clear and definite, to something new. […] Now everything is so unstable. A typical transitional situation.”

* image courtesy of Wikipedia