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Date & Time
November, 17 at 19.00
State Hermitage Youth Education Center
Palace square, 6–8
The Youth Education Center is entered from the Palace square through the museum zone of the General Staff Building
Victoria Ilyushkina (Russia)
CYLAND MediaArtLab is pleased to be hosting the St. Petersburg screening of Anton Vidokle’s film trilogy on Russian cosmism and a new film based on the manifesto of Biocosmism, written by Alexander Svyatogor in Moscow, in 1922.
The screening is followed by a discussion with the artist.
Since 2013, Anton Vidokle has been working on a series of films about the philosophy of Russian Cosmism. To date, this series includes the film trilogy “Immortality for All”, as well as ”Citizens of the Cosmos” and “Autotrofia”. Part historical research and part scripted fiction, these films evoke central desires of cosmism — rejuvenation, emancipation, universalism and transformation of living and dead matter — and enact them in the context of ordinary life in various parts of Russia, Japan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Italy, and other locations. Employing a diverse cast of characters including amateur and professional actors, taxi drivers, museum guards, artists, farmers, scientists, dancers, librarians and many others, these films often function as educational experiments, both for the participants as well as the eventual audience.
Anton Vidokle, Immortality for All: A Film Trilogy on Russian Cosmism, Kazakhstan / Germany / Russia / USA 2014–17, DCP, colour, sound, 96 min, Russian with English subtitles.
Anton Vidokle, Citizens of the Cosmos, USA / Japan / Ukraine 2019, HD video, color, sound, 30 min, Japanese with English subtitles.
Anton Vidokle, Cosmist Aesthetics. The lecture will be held in English with consecutive translation into Russian.
Artist and editor of e-flux journal. He was born in 1965 in Moscow, USSR, and lives in New York, USA, and Berlin, Germany. His work has been exhibited internationally at such venues and art festivals as Venice Biennale (Italy), Documenta (Kassel, Germany), Bergen Assembly (Norway), Shanghai Biennale (China), Istanbul Biennial (Turkey), Berlinale International Film Festival (Germany), Center Pompidou (Paris, France), Tate Modern (London, UK), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia), and others.
Anton Vidokle. Still from “Immortality for All: a Film Trilogy on Russian Cosmism”. 2014–2017. HD video. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space
Anton Vidokle (USA)
Immortality for All: a Film Trilogy on Russian Cosmism
video films, 2014–2017
Today the Russian philosophy known as Cosmism has been largely forgotten. Its utopian tenets — combining Western Enlightenment with Eastern philosophy, Russian Orthodox traditions with Marxism — inspired many key Soviet thinkers before they fell victim to Stalinist repression. In this three-part film project, artist Anton Vidokle probes Cosmism’s influence on the twentieth century and suggests its relevance to the present day.
In Part One he returns to the foundations of Cosmist thought (“This Is Cosmos”, 2014). Part Two explores the links between cosmology and politics (“The Communist Revolution Was Caused by the Sun”, 2015) and Part Three restages the museum as a site of resurrection, a central Cosmist idea (“Immortality and Resurrection for All!”, 2017).
Combining essay, documentary and performance, Vidokle quotes from the writings of Cosmism’s founder Nikolai Fedorov and other philosophers and poets. His wandering camera searches for traces of Cosmist influence in the remains of Soviet-era art, architecture and engineering, moving from the steppes of Kazakhstan to the museums of Moscow. Music by John Cale and Éliane Radigue accompanies these haunting images, conjuring up the yearning for connectedness, social equality, material transformation and immortality at the heart of Cosmist thought.
The films are shown in Russian with English subtitles.
This Is Cosmos (2014)
The first film in the trilogy was shot in Siberia and Kazakhstan, as well as in the Moscow and Arkhangelsk regions, and comprises a collage of ideas from the movement’s diverse protagonists, including founding philosopher Nikolai Fedorov. Fedorov, among others, believed that death was a mistake, a flaw in the overall design of the human — as Vidokle himself puts it, “because the energy of cosmos is indestructible, because true religion is a cult of ancestors, because true social equality is immortality for all.” For the Russian cosmists, the definition of cosmos was not limited to outer space: rather, they set out to create “cosmos,” or harmonious and eternal life, on Earth. The ultimate goal, as illuminated in the short film, was “to construct a new reality, free of hunger, disease, violence, death, need, inequality — like communism.”
The Communist Revolution Was Caused by the Sun (2015)
The second part of the trilogy looks at the poetic dimension of solar cosmology of the Soviet biophysicist, Alexander Chizhevsky. Filmed in Kazakhstan, where Chizhevsky was imprisoned and later exiled, this part introduces Сhizhevsky’s research into the impact of solar emissions on human sociology, psychology, politics and economics in the form of wars, revolutions, epidemics and other upheavals. The film aligns the life of post-Soviet rural residents and the futurological projects of Russian cosmism to emphasize that the goal of early Soviet breakthroughs to conquer outer space was not so much about technical acceleration, but rather the common cause of humankind in their struggle against the limitations of earthly life.
Immortality and Resurrection for All! (2017)
The last part of the trilogy is a meditation on a museum as a site of resurrection — a central idea for many Cosmist thinkers, scientists and avant-garde artists. Filmed at the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Zoological Museum, the Lenin Library and the Museum of Revolution, the film looks at museological and archival techniques of collection, restoration and conservation as a means of the material restoration of life, following an essay by Nikolai Fedorov on this subject written in the 1880s. The film follows a cast of present-day followers of Fedorov, actors, artists and a Pharaoh Hound as they playfully enact the resurrection of a mummy, followed by a close examination of Malevich’s “Black Square”, Rodchenko’s spatial constructions, stuffed animals, artifacts of the Russian Revolution, skeletons, and mannequins in tableau vivant-like scenes, all in an attempt to visualize the poetry implicit in Fedorov’s writings.
Anton Vidokle (USA)
Citizens of the Cosmos
video film, 2019
Music by Alva Noto
Courtesy of the artist, ASAKUSA, and Vitamin Creative Space
The film is based on the manifesto of Biocosmism written by Alexander Svyatogor in the early 1920s. Shot on location in Tokyo and Kiev, in collaboration with a group of amateur actors, volunteers and extras, the film presents an imagined community voicing historical desires of Russian Cosmism — immortality, resurrection of the dead and interplanetarism — set in everyday life in contemporary Japan. Using urban shrines, cemeteries, a crematorium, tatami rooms, a bamboo forest and city streets as an open air stage, the film narrates the text of the biocosmist manifesto while presenting a sequence of dream-like tableaus, featuring rejuvenation through blood transfusion, funerary processions and demonstrations, the Danse Macabre, the cremation bone-picking ceremony, attempts to communicate with the dead using stethoscopes, and a theremin orchestra recital, among other scenes. “Citizens of the Cosmos” is an experiment in defamiliarization: a speculative test of the universality implicit in the premise of Cosmism when projected outside the sphere of Russian geography, tradition, culture and language.