Beating the system

04 September, 2020

Beating the system

The whimsical artwork of the Moscow art group ABC (Art Business Consulting) has been born anew.

The now defunct art group ‘ABC’ (2001–2013) enjoyed swimming against the current. Its three members - Natalia Struchkova (b. 1968), Maksim Ilyukhin (b. 1975) and Mikhail Kosolapov (b. 1970) - claimed to contradict the Marxist discourse popular on the Russian art scene of the time.

“We all worked at the office and spent our salaries to buy materials for our artworks. We felt we were not poor artists exploited by the capitalist system, on the contrary, we exploited it for the sake of art,” Natalia Struchkova reminisces. “We wanted to set a good example to other white collar workers: every office clerk could become an artist like us.” The group often used office furniture to create their tongue-in-cheek conceptual objects. The ‘Photographic object with legs’ was assembled out of several computer desks. The photographs, for which the artists themselves posed, were taken at the office of BBDO’s Moscow branch, where Ilyukhin was employed at the time. During the shooting, the artists hid behind semi-transparent glass doors of office wardrobes. The work, which conveys the inner absurdities of daily office routines with irreverent humour, was first exhibited in 2005. It proved to be one of the group’s most popular creations. It was shown at various exhibitions in Russia and abroad, including the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the private Krinzinger Gallery in Vienna. Over the years, the furniture has deteriorated and the artists had to rebuild it, using second-hand desks procured at online auctions (In the era of laptops, old-fashioned computer desks have fallen out of use and are no longer manufactured). It is now on display at the group exhibition ‘15-minute Break’, the first stage of a two-part project about the role of labour in contemporary society. It has been organized by the Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art, together with Moscow’s private Triumph gallery.

15-minute break. Part 1

All-Russia Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art

Moscow, Russia

August 14 – September 20, 2020

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