Recent developments in biotechnology, genetics, and artificial intelligence suggest that the ancient myths of eternal youth, immortality, and material resurrection are now a tangible horizon of the technological imagination. At the same time, a century of dreams for travel in cosmic space and life on other planets have coalesced into a new transcendental realm—infinite in size, yet located in the material world, which itself has radically expanded. What are the politics and aesthetics of life in this new world?
Already in the late 19th century, Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov started considering some of these questions in his philosophy of the common task, which advocated technological immortality, material resurrection for all who had ever lived, and the exploration of outer space. A central tenet of Fedorov’s larger philosophical outlook, known as Russian Cosmism, puts art on par with science, technology, and social organization as an integral force ushering in the new world. Fedorov’s ideas inspired numerous artists, writers, and scientists in his lifetime and well after his physical death. Following the October Revolution in 1917, Russian Cosmism became attractive to the materialist philosophy at the core of Communist ideology. This radical vision of everlasting life in the cosmos was particularly important for the Russian avant-garde, which explored the possibilities of new worlds through Suprematism, Constructivism, and other related movements that have been long represented in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art.
post presents Russian Cosmism: A Work of Art in the Age of Technological Immortality will address the ideas of Russian Cosmism and their relevance to our time. During this one-night symposium, Boris Groys will speak on the biopolitics of technological immortality and resurrection; Arseny Zhilyaev considers the aesthetic ideals of Russian Cosmism including "life building” in collaboration with God; Hito Steyerl will talk about continued quests for the elixir of immortality, euthanasia, and genocide; and Anton Vidokle will present a recent short film called The Communist Revolution Was Caused by the Sun.
Boris Groys is a philosopher, essayist, and media theorist. Having taught in Philadelphia, Münster, and Los Angeles, he became Professor of Art History, Philosophy and Media Theory at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in 1994. In 2009, he was appointed Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University. He has published widely on the subject of the Russian avant-garde and was curator of the exhibition Dream Factory Communism at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in 2003–04.
Hito Steyerl is a writer and filmmaker. Her works have been exhibited at the 32nd São Paulo Biennial (2016), the 9th Berlin Biennale (2016), the German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial (2015), and Documenta 12 (2007), among other venues and institutions.
Arseny Zhilyaev is an artist based in Moscow. In recent works he has examined the legacy of Soviet museology and the museum within Russian Cosmism. Among other writings, he has published articles in e-flux journal. Zhilyaev is editor of Avant-Garde Museology (2015). His works have been shown at the Gwangju Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, and the Ljubljana Triennial, as well as in exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo, Paris; De Appel, Amsterdam; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and San Francisco; and the V-A-C Foundation, Moscow.
Anton Vidokle is an artist and editor of e-flux journal. He was born in Moscow and lives in New York and Berlin. Vidokle’s work has been exhibited internationally at Documenta 13 and at the 56th Venice Biennale. His films have been presented at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Garage Museum, Moscow; Remai Modern, Saskatoon; and others.
Introduced and moderated by Ksenia Nouril, independent art historian and curator, New York.
Participation in this event is by invitation only. For information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.