Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art at e-flux and The James Gallery

Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art at e-flux and The James Gallery


Chto Delat, The Excluded. In a Moment of Danger, 2014. Installation.

January 22, 2015

Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art
February 7–March 28, 2015 at The James Gallery
February 11–March 28, 2015 at e-flux

Opening at The James Gallery: Friday, February 6, 6–8pm

Opening at e-flux: Tuesday, February 10, 6–8pm
8pm: Anton Vidokle, The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun

Symposium: Monday February 9, 2–6pm
The James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Further information here

The James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 5th Avenue 
New York, NY 10016
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday noon–7pm, 
Friday–Saturday noon–6pm

311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday noon–6pm


Artists: Alina and Jeff Bliumis, Chto delat, Keti Chukhrov, Anton Ginzburg, Pussy Riot, Anton Vidokle, Arseny Zhilyaev

Curated by Boris Groys

Contemporary Russian artists are still haunted by the specters of communism. On the one hand, they do not want to close the utopian perspective that was opened by the October revolution and art of the Russian avant-garde. But, on the other hand, they cannot forget the long history of post-revolutionary violence, where artists are haunted by these specters in the middle of reality that does not welcome them.

In contemporary Russia in which the official political and cultural attitudes become increasingly conservative, a new generation of Russian artists continue the tradition of the Russian artistic and political Left: desire to change the reality by means of art, ideals of equality and social justice, radical Utopianism, secularism and internationalism. This exhibition includes the works of artists from Moscow and St. Petersburg who share a critical attitude towards the realities of contemporary Russian life. 

Pussy Riot address the power of the Church and its complicity with the state. The group’s famous “Punk Prayer” brought two of its members into prison. The videos of Chto delat thematize the cultural and political issues with which the Left is confronted in the contemporary world. Arseny Zhilyaev supplies an ironical commentary to the contemporary Russian media space in which the sensational news about UFOs and meteorites circulate together with Putin’s quasi-artistic actions, like kissing the tiger and finding the antique amphorae at the bottom of the sea. And in her poetic and poignant video Keti Chukhrov shows the gap between the intellectual attitudes of the Russian leftist activists and their real social behavior. 

The exhibition also includes the works of New York artists of Russian origin who also deal with the heritage of Russian communism. Anton Vidokle rediscovers in his works the radical Utopian projects of the Russian political and artistic avant-garde aiming at creating the world in which men become immortal and at the same time re-united with cosmic life. Anton Ginzburg finds the traces of the gigantic “earthworks” of the Soviet time. And Alina and Jeff Bliumis nostalgically try to reestablish the direct contact with the audience that was lost by art under the conditions of the art market. 

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January 22, 2015

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