Cosmism, a Superhumanity symposium at Princeton University School of Architecture

Cosmism, a Superhumanity symposium at Princeton University School of Architecture

Anton Vidokle, Immortality For All: a film trilogy on Russian Cosmism, 2014–17. HD video, color, sound, 96 minutes, Russian with English subtitles. Courtesy the artist.

Cosmism, a Superhumanity symposium at Princeton University School of Architecture
Date
November 30, 2017
Princeton University School of Architecture
Architecture Building
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

Within the framework of the exhibition ARE WE HUMAN? The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years at Princeton University School of Architecture, Beatriz Colomina, Mark Wigley, and e-flux Architecture are proud to present Cosmism, a Superhumanity symposium, featuring Robert Bird, Maria Chehonadskih, Beatriz Colomina, Boris Groys, Nikolaus Hirsch, Marina Simakova, Anton Vidokle, Mark Wigley, and Arseny Zhilyaev.

Superhumanity draws from “The Obligation to Self-Design” (e-flux journal issue 0), a text by Boris Groys in which a genealogy of design is traced from the design of the soul and the design of the self to "the design of life as a whole," to respond to the theme of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial—Are We Human?—by engaging with and departing from the concept of the “self.” Through its original 50 contributions (e-flux Architecture, September 2016–February 2017) and its continuations in Havana (Artista x Artista, March 2017) and Seoul (MMCA, October 2017), Superhumanity has sought to explore and challenge our understanding of “design” by probing the idea that we are and always have been continuously reshaped by the artifacts we shape and the thoughts we think. In this sense, we can look to Russian Cosmism as one of the most historically significant intellectual movements to have taken place over the past two hundred years in shaping collective self-consciousness and its utopian horizons.

Russian Cosmism was a movement that called for material immortality and resurrection, as well as travel to outer space. It developed out of the spirituality of 19th century Russia and a strong fascination with science and technology. The doctrine of immortal life in infinite space captured the optimism of both science and the arts at the time. Since then, the utopian, science fiction-like thinking of the cosmists had a great influence on art, architecture, science, and politics in both pre-revolutionary and Soviet Russia.

Looking at Russian Cosmism today opens up new perspectives on the Russian avant-garde as well as the ideology and politics of Russia to the present day. In his influential writings, Nikolai Fedorov (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. For Fedorov, 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 Russian Cosmism, as the remains needed for the resurrection of individuals would have to be preserved there. Fedorov, like the painter and founder of Suprematism Kazimir Malevich, believed that after the death of God, the museum would be the only place where a transhistorical union beyond the grave was possible.

Cosmism, a Superhumanity symposium, will focus on the key concepts, continuities, and impact of Russian Cosmism: from Nikolai Fedorov’s philosophy of the “Common Task” to the significance of Cosmist ideas for the architecture, art, science and philosophy of the Soviet era; from authors and artists of the Russian avant-garde who envisioned modern technology as the pathway to a society of universal happiness, to contemporary artistic positions indebted to Cosmism and Universalism.

See the full program here.

Category
Design, Avant-Garde, Utopia
Subject
Cosmism, Science Fiction

Robert Bird is a Professor in the Departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Bird’s primary area of interest is the aesthetic practice and theory of Russian/Soviet modernism. He has published books on Viacheslav Ivanov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Andrei Tarkovsky, and essays on a variety of topics in Russian literature, intellectual history, film, and video art. Most recently he was coeditor (with Christina Kiaer and Zachary Cahill) of Revolution Every Day: A Calendar (Mousse Publishing, 2017), the catalogue to the exhibition “Revolution Every Day” at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. He is currently completing a book, Soul Machine: How Soviet Film Modeled Socialism, which analyzes the rise of socialist realism as a modeling aesthetic.

Beatriz Colomina is an architecture historian, theorist, and curator. She is the founding director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University, the Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture, and Director of Graduate studies in the School of Architecture.

Boris Groys is a philosopher, essayist, art critic, media theorist, and an internationally renowned expert on Soviet-era art and literature, especially the Russian avant-garde.

Anton Vidokle is an editor of e-flux journal.

Mark Wigley is Professor and Dean Emeritus at Columbia GSAPP. His most recent book is Konrad Wachsmann's Television: Post-Architectural Transmissions (Sternberg Press, 2020).

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.

Map
RSVP
RSVP for Cosmism, a Superhumanity symposium at Princeton University…

Thank you for your RSVP.

will be in touch.

Subscribe
I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for subscribing to e-flux

Feel free to subscribe to additional content from the e-flux platform.