The Collective Symptom project is a new exhibition, being the part of Collection. A Vantage Point Program, which seeks to explore and present art from the Moscow Museum of Modern Art collection. Each previous display in the series revealed a unique method of showing the museum’s collection: from conceptual approach to formal strategy of display. This project, being the fourth installment of the program, deals with a range of motifs belonging to the field of social sensitivity.
Curators have gained inspiration from the notion of ‘experience society’ elaborated by a German sociologist Gerhard Schulze in early 1990s. According to this theory, contemporary urban society has been going through a radical change in the rationale of everyday sensitivity. For instance, consumption becomes necessary not so much to fill fundamental everyday needs as for the sake of the so-called ‘self design’. Thus, what turns out to be really ‘sense-making’ in the context is the very emotional experience of connecting with a community or another. At the same time it is impossible to dismiss the fact that the need of belonging to a group and getting social approval from a certain individual or community has been a fundamental human quality throughout the whole history of civilization.
Such a ’collective symptom’ that may be expected to provoke collective obsession is the leitmotif of this project at the MMOMA Educational Centre. Among the individual cases examined within the project are witch-hunt stories and examples of personal cults, urban legends and consequences of molismophobia, methods of constructing the image of a common foe, as well as vehement discussions around the technological progress. Beside real historical events and phenomena that may be interpreted as a case of collective hysteria, the curators wonder if something of that ilk exists in the space of art.
The oeuvres from the MMOMA collection by diverse artists created by very different generations and sharing sharply singular aesthetical principles are brought together with the curatorial dossier shedding light on different situations and forms of collective exaltation. The display is staged as a kind of quest intended to discover the relation of an artistic journey to a certain motif or problem. The result depends on the viewer’s sharp eye and observation skills. The works of such major figures, as Ilya Chashnik and Alexander Rodchenko, Igor Makarevich and Nikolay Antipin, Eugeny Ufit and Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe and others present both ‘vantage points’ and autonomous narratives providing the space for personal reflections and emotions.