Igor Shelkovsky in Conversation with David Platzker

In this three-part video, David Platzker, Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, interviews artist and publisher Igor Shelkovsky in his Moscow studio during the C-MAP Central and Eastern European group trip in June 2015.

Before Shelkovsky immigrated to France in 1976, he was active in unofficial circles in Moscow, associated with artists such as Ilya Kabakov and Alexander Kosolapov. They were united in their rejection of Socialist Realism, the official style of art in the Soviet Union. From Paris in 1979, Shelkovsky launched A-YA (a-Я), the first magazine dedicated to Soviet—primarily Russian—unofficial art, which reproduced artworks and gave rise to a new generation of critics, including Boris Groys. With help from contacts in Moscow and New York, Shelkovsky published eight issues in Russian, French, and English between 1979 and 1988. While the magazine was monitored by the KGB or secret police, it was an invaluable resource for artists. This interview describes how the publication was produced, the risks undertaken, and the effects of A-YA on Soviet unofficial art.

Conversation with Igor Shelkovsky, Part I
Conversation with Igor Shelkovsky, Part II
Conversation with Igor Shelkovsky, Part III
Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Content

Breaking Down Binaries, Feeling Contradictions: Thoughts on Some of the Conundrums Concerning Art’s Ecologies

Sarah Lookofsky, former Associate Director of the International program at MoMA, rumintes on the presentations and conversations held on Day One of the 2022 C-MAP seminar. Lookofsky calls out the contradictions of art’s embeddedness with various ecologies, rehearsing her own writing-thinking as produced by a “dumpy dialectic.”

Working with Peripheries: Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feelings

In this essay, Māra Traumane guides readers through the diverse, interdisciplinary practice of the Riga-based collective Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feelings (NSRD), which operated from the end of the 1970s until 1989. NSRD was involved in the avant-garde music scene as well as in architecture, and their activities ranged from concerts and the production of record albums to performances, writing, and video art.