Anton Vidokle and Arseny Zhilyaev  – Art Without Death: Russian Cosmism


13th April 2017, 5pm, Kunsthalle Bratislava, lecture and screening


Lecture is organized by APART in collaboration with SOFT NORM (AFAD) project and Kunsthalle Bratislava. Lecture will be realised in the framework of the exhibition – APART: Possibility of preserving


Arseny Zhilyaev’s lecture titled And Apple Trees Will Bloom On Mars will introduce the origin of Russian Cosmism, its main trajectories and representatives that include philosophers, scientists and thinkers. Anton Vidokle will screen two films from his trilogy on Russian Cosmism (the third will be premiered at HKW, Berlin in the fall) including This is Cosmos (2014) and The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun (2015). A Q&A will follow the presentations.


The cosmism movement, which called for material immortality and resurrection, as well as travel to outer space, developed from a particular spirituality in nineteenth century Russia. The doctrine of immortal life in infinite space captured the optimism of science and the arts in those days. Since then, the utopian, science fiction-like thinking of the cosmists had a great influence on art, science, and politics in both pre-revolutionary and Soviet Russia.

Looking at it today, cosmism – although overshadowed by official Soviet ideology – opens up new perspectives on the Russian avant-garde as well as the ideology and politics of present day Russia. For example, in his influential writings, Nikolai Fyodorov (1829-1903) demanded that the ultimate goal of technology must be to overcome death; all people who had ever lived on earth must be brought back to life. The cosmists were also visionary pioneers of space travel. Fyodorov, for instance, claimed that the colonization of other planets would be the inevitable consequence of the lack of space after the resurrection of the dead. The institution of the museum also played a central role in cosmism as the material needed for the resurrection of individuals would have to be preserved there. Nikolai Fyodorov, like the painter and founder of Suprematism, Kazmir Malevich, believed that after the death of God, the museum would be the only place where a transhistorical union beyond the grave would be possible.”


Excerpt from an annotation of the upcoming exhibition at HKW Berlin “Art Without Death: Russian Cosmism,” organized by Anton Vidokle, Arseny Zhilyaev and Boris Groys, September 2017:


Anton Vidokle is an artist living and working in New York and Berlin. As founder as e-flux, and co-editor of e-flux journal along with Julieta Aranda and Brian Kuan Wood, Vidokle has presented projects internationally including at the Venice Biennale (2015) and Documenta 13. Most recently, Vidokle has presented his films at the Berlinale International Film Festival (2015, 2016), the Moscow Biennial (2016), the Gwangju Biennial (2016); amongst others.

Arseny Zhilyaev explores the heritage of Soviet museology in his artworks from a revisionist perspective. Since 2011 he is a co-editor of Moscow based magazine about art Khudozhestvennyi Zhurnal. His work has been exhibited internationally at Liverpool Biennale (2016), Ljubljana Triennial (2016) and Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow (2012); amongst others.