Gift/Knowledge Relations at the Exhibition of Gifts to Soviet Leaders

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Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov

Keywords

Gift, Knowledge, Gift/Knowledge, Performativity, Ethnographic Conceptualism, Conceptual Art, Power

Abstract

This is a study of audience reactions to the exhibition Gifts to Soviet Leaders (Kremlin Museum, Moscow, 2006) that ranges from comments in the viewers’ response book to the decision of the Kremlin Museum to gift a copy of the exhibition catalogue to President Vladimir Putin for his fifty-fifth birthday in 2007. My goal is to demonstrate how relations of knowledge, which configure this complex post-Soviet audience in the form of social memory, perform the gift and, vice versa, how gift giving performs these relations of knowledge and power. In doing so, this article contributes from a new angle to the gift theory and also to anthropological understandings of performativity. It is a study in “ethnographic conceptualism” that refers to anthropological themes and concepts as they can be used in conceptual art and also, conversely, to anthropology conducted as conceptual art. In English, extended summary in Russian.
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