Arseniy Zhilyaev.
Museum of Proletarian Culture. The Industrialization of Bohemia

Exhibition catalogues and special projects

An exhibition of an imagined museum in which history and art represents the working class.

Arseniy Zhilyaev is an artist, a curator and theorist of contemporary art. In his work he appeals to the legacy of Soviet museology as well as to the interpretation of the museum in the philosophy of Russian cosmism.

The book Museum of Proletarian Culture. The Industrialization of Bohemia is published as part of the eponymous exhibition of Arseniy Zhilyaev, which was part of a parallel programme of the International Biennale of Young Art in 2012 at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Krymsky Val, Moscow.

Zhilyaev based this idea on the experience of exhibitions in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the Soviet Museum was to be transformed from a collection of objects into a system of ideas. These principles most clearly emerged in the total installation of the curator Alexey Fedorov-Davydov’s "Experimental complex Marxist exhibition", in which the history of art was shown from the stance of class struggle.

Arseniy Zhilyaev used Fedorov-Davydov’s conception and included samples of working-class creativity that are not recognized as works of art in his exhibition: advertising, wall calendars, posters with show business stars, household photos. He created a partly documentary, partly fictional chronology of workers' art from the 1960s to the present day.