One frosty January morning Alexey Buistov had hit a carpet seven times in the snowy backyard of his studio. According to the artist's feelings, even such a routine, everyday action, having been transferred into the art context, is quite capable of acquiring the status of artistic and conceptual action. The historical backdrop of the action "Seven Hits on the Carpet" is an event that took place almost forty years ago on Crimean peninsula. On April 30, 1976 Nikita Alexeev, the conceptual artist and member of the group "Collective Actions", had executed the action "Seven Hits on the Water" on the Black Sea coast (photo reproductions below). Description of the action, its photographic documentation and the artist's comments were included in the first volume of the Collective Actions's "Trips to the Countryside", published in samizdat in 1980.
The Collective Actions group was formed in Moscow in the late 1970s by such artists as Andrei Monastyrsky, Nikolai Panitkov, Nikita Alexeev and Georgy Kizevalter. All of them professed the aesthetics of "empty" action. Their countryside actions, held in the Moscow forests, with all their seeming simplicity and unpretentiousness, had truly Zen Buddhist ritual essence and impacted the participants strongly, with the intensity comparable to the Aristotelian catharsis. They were artists who almost did not write pictures, the consciousness of the viewer was their canvas. This kind of art was so immaterial that it had reached us, contemporaries, only in a form of photographic and textual documentation, to which the members of the group had a real passion.
What is the purpose of the action "Seven Hits on the Carpet"? For an inexperienced observer, this action looked exactly like a seasonal winter cleaning of carpets on the snow, routine practice aimed to get rid of dust and dirt in people's apartments. This is a pragmatic view, as the ratio tells us. And intuition suggests that in reenacting the drama of Alexeyev interaction with water, there is something else hidden. Buistov action was not intended to be built-in into the canon of Moscow conceptualism "as is". First of all, it is an attempt of a dialogue, reflection on the question of whether the conceptual art, the art focused on content, not on form, is an elitist kind of art. What qualitative results can be achieved by replacing the element of water and purely ritual action with its action more prosaic and devoid of any hint of spiritual content? What will happen if we go down from the "heavens" to the "earth" with purely technical means, choosing a typical part of the Soviet apartment interior as the instrument of promotion, the carpet people walk on every day? Is it enough to choose the right material to reach the goal of democratization of conceptual art, or will it remain the art of the chosen ones?