Portrait of woman with short brown hair and glasses, wearing a blue blouse.

Yelena Kalinsky

Associate Professor, Fixed Term
History of Art

141H Old Horticulture

East Lansing, MI 48824




Yelena Kalinsky is an art historian and translator, whose research focuses on modern and contemporary art, with particular interest in performance, documentary and archival strategies, and alternative artistic networks under conditions of political repression. Her book in progress, Collective Actions and the Moscow Conceptualist Art World, explores how conceptual and performance art produced rich spaces for art world making outside official institutions and the market, and how this art world changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

She recently co-edited and co-translated (with Brian Droitcour) the first English-language volume of poetry by artist and poet Andrei Monastyrski. Andrei Monastyrski: Elementary Poetry (forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse) includes long poems, artist’s books, and action objects that chart Monastyrski’s progress from the dissident poetry scene of the 1960s to his better known work as a co-founder of the performance art group Collective Actions in 1976. A previous translated volume, Collective Actions: Audience Recollections from the First Five Years, 1976-1981 (Soberscove Press) gave English-language readers access to the documentary genre of the audience recollection, which Collective Actions employed after many of their performances within a larger corpus of documentary strategies.

Kalinsky earned a PhD in Art History from Rutgers University in 2013. She is the associate director for research and publications of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, where she oversees H-Net Reviews and will soon be launching Feeding the Elephant: A Forum of Scholarly Communications with MSU Press on the H-Net Book Channel.

She regularly screens films for the MSU Film Collective and the Broad Underground film series.


Translated volumes:

Andrei Monastyrski: Elementary Poetry, co-edited, co-translated, and introductory essay with Brian Droitcour (New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, forthcoming December 2019).

Collective Actions: Audience Recollections from the First Five Years, 1976-1981, edited, translated, and introductory essay (Chicago: Soberscove Press, 2012).

Articles, essays, and reviews:

“Pencil Marks on a Field: Documentation and Support in Late-Soviet Performance Art,” in Russian Performances: Word, Object, Action, eds. Julie Buckler, Julie Cassiday, and Boris Wolfson (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2018), 82-91.

“The Schizoid Objects of Moscow Conceptualism,” in Thinking Pictures: The Visual Field of Moscow Conceptualism, ed. Jane A. Sharp (New Brunswick: Zimmerli Art Museum, 2016), 34-41.

Review of Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970-1980, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, caa.reviews, May 2, 2014. http://www.caareviews.org/reviews/2195#.VtSwMBibH8I

“Useless Actions and Senseless Laughter: On Moscow Conceptualist Art and Politics,” Russian Literature Special Issue “Totalitarian Laughter: Images – Sounds – Performers” 74, nos. 1-2 (July-August 2013): 65-100.

“Drowning in Documents: Action, Documentation, and Factography in Early Work by the Collective Actions Group,” ARTMargins 2, vol. 1 (February 2013): 82-105.

“The View from Out Here: Western Conceptualism in the Moscow Conceptualist Imagination,” Athanor 29 (July 2011): 97-105.

“Andrei Kuzkin, Conceptualist Son,” ARTMargins: Contemporary Central and East European Visual Culture, artmargins.com, January 2010. http://www.artmargins.com/index.php/featured-articles/546-andrey-kuzkin- conceptualist-son-series-qnew-critical-approachesq-articles

“Invisible Exhibitions: Performance & the Archive in Moscow Conceptualism,” Galerija Nova Newspapers Special Issue on The Invisible History of Exhibitions, ed. What, How & for Whom #19-20 (July 2009): 31-36.

“Quoting Gesture: Andrei Roiter in the 1980s,” Zimmerli Journal 5, Pt. 1. (Fall 2008): 96-119.


Kalinsky teaches courses on the art of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as modern and contemporary art of Europe and North America in a global context.

Courses at MSU include:

HA 291 Russian and Soviet Art, 1757-Present

HA 452 Soviet and Eastern European Contemporary Art

HA 452 Art in the Expanded Field

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