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 until they fell victim to Stalinist repression. In his 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.
Immortality and Resurrection for All! (2017), the trilogy’s final chapter, is a meditation on a museum as the 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 penned by Nikolai Fedorov on this subject in the 1880s. The film follows a cast comprised of present-day followers of Fedorov, several actors, artists and a Pharaoh Hound that playfully enact the resurrection of a mummy, a close examination of Malevich’s Black Square, Rodchenko’s spatial constructions, taxidermied animals, artifacts of the Russian Revolution, skeletons, and mannequins in tableau vivant-like scenes, in order to create a contemporary visualization for the poetry implicit in Fedorov’s writings.
Anton Vidokle is an artist and editor of e-flux journal. He was born in Moscow and lives in New York and Berlin. Vidokle’s work has been exhibited internationally at Documenta 13 and the 56th Venice Biennale. Vidokle’s films have been presented at Bergen Assembly, Shanghai Biennale, the 65th and 66th Berlinale International Film Festival, Forum Expanded, Gwangju Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern, Garage Museum, Istanbul Biennial, Haus der Kulturen der Welt and others.
969MB | 34 min 16 s | 1920×1080 | mkv
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