This month, MIT publishes History Becomes Form: Moscow Conceptualism, by Boris Groys.
In 1976, Groys moved from Leningrad to Moscow; there he joined the artistic underground and grew close to Russian artists Ilya Kabakov, Erik Bulatov, Dmitri Prigov, Andrei Monastyrski, Lev Rubinstein, and Ivan Chuikov. He first wrote about them in 1979 for a A-Ya, a Russian-language magazine published in Paris, calling them “Moscow Romantic conceptualists.” History Becomes Form collects Groys’s essays on Moscow Conceptualism, most of them written after his emigration to the West in 1981. The individual artists of the group became known in the West after perestroika, but until now the artistic movement as a whole has received little attention. Groys’s account sheds light not only on the Moscow conceptualists and their work but also on the dilemmas of Soviet artists during the cold war.