Arseny Zhilyaev - Avant-Garde Museology

Avant-Garde Museology

Avant-Garde Museology is the first title in e-flux classics, a new book series focusing on an emerging historical canon specific to an era when the world’s many eccentric modernities, economies of knowledge, and shared political histories seek to be recognized through contemporary art.

The museum of contemporary art might very well be the most advanced recording device ever invented in the history of humankind. It is a place for the storage of historical grievances and the memory of forgotten artistic experiments, social projects, or errant futures. But in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Russia, this recording device was undertaken by a number of artists and thinkers as a site for experimentation.

Arseny Zhilyaev’s Avant-Garde Museology presents a collection of crucial essays documenting the wildly encompassing progressivism of this period, by figures such as Nikolai Fedorov, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Bogdanov, Andrey Platonov and many others—several of which are translated from the Russian for the first time.

While the first question for any progressive curatorial practice and museology concerns how the errant futures stored in the museum can be played back, for the authors in this compendium, the more urgent question becomes: How might the contents of the museum be reanimated so as to transcend even the social and physical limits imposed on humankind?

—Edited by Arseny Zhilyaev; Series editors: Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle


With texts by David Arkin; Vladimir Bekhterev; Aleksander Bogdanov; Osip Brik; Vasily Chekrygin; Leonid Chetyrkin; Nikolai Druzhinin; Nikolai Fedorov; Pavel Florensky; R. N. Frumkina; M. S. Ilkovskiy; V. I. Karmilov; V. Karpov; Valentin Kholtsov; P. N. Khrapov; Yuriy Kogan; Natalya Kovalenskaya; Nadezhda Krupskaya; S. P. Lebedyansky; A. F. Levitsky; Vera Leykina (Leykina-Svirskaya); Ivan Luppol; Kazimir Malevich; Andrey Platonov; Nikolai Punin; Aleksandr Rodchenko; Yuriy Samarin; I. F. Sheremet; Andrey Shestakov; N. A. Schneerson; Ivan Skulenko; M. Vorobiev; N. Vorontsovsky; Boris Zavadovsky; I. M. Zykov.

Arseny Zhilyaev is an artist based in Moscow and Venice. His projects examine the legacy of Soviet museology and the museum within the philosophy of Russian Cosmism.

“Avant-Garde Museology”, Art Review Asia
by Hanlu Zhang

Avant-Garde Museology  is the first book in a new series called “e-flux Classics,” which, according to the editor, aims to question the existing art historical canon by revisiting and complicating it. This bulky publication carries that mantle as a recuperating study in English-language academia of Communist Russia led by several members of the... Read more.

“Avant-Garde Museology”, Leonardo Reviews
by Amanda Egbe

Avant-Garde Museology  is an anthology of documents, prose, fragments, and experiments from the period of post revolutionary Soviet Union museum practice that until now have been dispersed and unavailable in English. The translated collection draws together ideas that share, as editor Arseny Zhilyaev suggests, a common theme that is the... Read more.

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