Boris Groys

Boris Groys is Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University, Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of Design in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Professor at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland. He is the author of Art Power, History Becomes Form: Moscow Conceptualism (both published by the MIT Press), and other books.

  • Russian Cosmism

    Russian Cosmism

    Boris Groys

    Crucial texts, many available in English for the first time, written before and during the Bolshevik Revolution by the radical biopolitical utopianists of Russian Cosmism.

    Cosmism emerged in Russia before the October Revolution and developed through the 1920s and 1930s; like Marxism and the European avant-garde, two other movements that shared this intellectual moment, Russian Cosmism rejected the contemplative for the transformative, aiming to create not merely new art or philosophy but a new world. Cosmism went the furthest in its visions of transformation, calling for the end of death, the resuscitation of the dead, and free movement in cosmic space. This volume collects crucial texts, many available in English for the first time, by the radical biopolitical utopianists of Russian Cosmism.

    Cosmism was developed by the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov in the late nineteenth century; he believed that humans had an ethical obligation not only to care for the sick but to cure death using science and technology; outer space was the territory of both immortal life and infinite resources. After the revolution, a new generation pursued Fedorov's vision. Cosmist ideas inspired visual artists, poets, filmmakers, theater directors, novelists (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky read Fedorov's writings), architects, and composers, and influenced Soviet politics and technology. In the 1930s, Stalin quashed Cosmism, jailing or executing many members of the movement. Today, when the philosophical imagination has again become entangled with scientific and technological imagination, the works of the Russian Cosmists seem newly relevant.

    Contributors Alexander Bogdanov, Alexander Chizhevsky, Nikolai Fedorov, Boris Groys, Valerian Muravyev, Alexander Svyatogor, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Anton Vidokle, Brian Kuan Wood

    A copublication with e-flux, New York

  • History Becomes Form

    History Becomes Form

    Moscow Conceptualism

    Boris Groys

    An insider's account of the art and artists of the most interesting Russian artistic phenomenon since the Russian Avant-Garde.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of “unofficial” artists in Moscow—artists not recognized by the state, not covered by state-controlled media, and cut off from wider audiences—created artworks that gave artistic form to a certain historical moment: the experience of Soviet socialism. The Moscow conceptualists not only reflected and analyzed by artistic means a spectacle of Soviet life but also preserved its memory for a future that turned out to be different from the officially predicted one. They captured both the shabby austerity of everyday Soviet life and the utopian energy of Soviet culture. In History Becomes Form, Boris Groys offers a contemporary's account of what he calls the most interesting Russian artistic phenomenon since the Russian avant-garde.

    The book collects Groys's essays on Moscow conceptualism, most of them written after his emigration to the West in 1981. The individual artists of the group—including Ilya Kabakov, Lev Rubinstein, and Ivan Chuikov—became known in the West after perestroika, but until now the artistic movement as a whole has received little attention. Groys's account sheds light not only on the Moscow Conceptualists and their work but also on the dilemmas of Soviet artists during the cold war.

    • Hardcover $28.95
    • Paperback $16.95
  • Art Power

    Art Power

    Boris Groys

    A new book by Boris Groys acknowledges the problem and potential of art's complex relationship to power.

    Art has its own power in the world, and is as much a force in the power play of global politics today as it once was in the arena of cold war politics. Art, argues the distinguished theoretician Boris Groys, is hardly a powerless commodity subject to the art market's fiats of inclusion and exclusion. In Art Power, Groys examines modern and contemporary art according to its ideological function. Art, Groys writes, is produced and brought before the public in two ways—as a commodity and as a tool of political propaganda. In the contemporary art scene, very little attention is paid to the latter function.

    Arguing for the inclusion of politically motivated art in contemporary art discourse, Groys considers art produced under totalitarianism, Socialism, and post-Communism. He also considers today's mainstream Western art—which he finds behaving more and more according the norms of ideological propaganda: produced and exhibited for the masses at international exhibitions, biennials, and festivals. Contemporary art, Groys argues, demonstrates its power by appropriating the iconoclastic gestures directed against itself—by positioning itself simultaneously as an image and as a critique of the image. In Art Power, Groys examines this fundamental appropriation that produces the paradoxical object of the modern artwork.

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $17.95
  • Ilya Kabakov

    Ilya Kabakov

    The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment

    Boris Groys

    An illustrated study of one of Ilya Kabakov's most fantastic installations.

    The fictitious hero of this 1984 installation is a lonely dreamer who develops an impossible project: to fly alone in cosmic space. But this dream is also an individual appropriation of a collective Soviet project and the official Soviet propaganda connected to it. Having built a makeshift slingshot, the hero apparently flies through the ceiling of his shabby room and vanishes into space. The miserable room and the primitive slingshot suggest the reality behind the Soviet utopia, in which where cosmic vision and the political project of the Communist revolution are seen as indissoluble.

    The Man who Flew into Space from His Apartment also raises questions of authorship in modernity. All of Kabakov's work is made in the name of other, fictitious artists. This reveals a hidden rule of the modern art system: only an artist who doesn't want to be an artist or who doesn't even know that he is an artist is a real artist—just as only an artwork that does not look like an artwork is a real artwork. The installation is a narrative, the documentation of a fictitious event.

    Afterall Books are distributed by The MIT Press.

    • Hardcover $35.00
    • Paperback $19.95

Contributor

  • Art School

    Art School

    (Propositions for the 21st Century)

    Steven Henry Madoff

    Leading international artists and art educators consider the challenges of art education in today's dramatically changed art world.

    The last explosive change in art education came nearly a century ago, when the German Bauhaus was formed. Today, dramatic changes in the art world—its increasing professionalization, the pervasive power of the art market, and fundamental shifts in art-making itself in our post-Duchampian era—combined with a revolution in information technology, raise fundamental questions about the education of today's artists. Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century) brings together more than thirty leading international artists and art educators to reconsider the practices of art education in academic, practical, ethical, and philosophical terms. The essays in the book range over continents, histories, traditions, experiments, and fantasies of education. Accompanying the essays are conversations with such prominent artist/educators as John Baldessari, Michael Craig-Martin, Hans Haacke, and Marina Abramovic, as well as questionnaire responses from a dozen important artists—among them Mike Kelley, Ann Hamilton, Guillermo Kuitca, and Shirin Neshat—about their own experiences as students. A fascinating analysis of the architecture of major historical art schools throughout the world looks at the relationship of the principles of their designs to the principles of the pedagogy practiced within their halls. And throughout the volume, attention is paid to new initiatives and proposals about what an art school can and should be in the twenty-first century—and what it shouldn't be. No other book on the subject covers more of the questions concerning art education today or offers more insight into the pressures, challenges, risks, and opportunities for artists and art educators in the years ahead.

    Contributors Marina Abramovic, Dennis Adams, John Baldessari, Ute Meta Bauer, Daniel Birnbaum, Saskia Bos, Tania Bruguera, Luis Camnitzer, Michael Craig-Martin, Thierry de Duve, Clémentine Deliss, Charles Esche, Liam Gillick, Boris Groys, Hans Haacke, Ann Lauterbach, Ken Lum, Steven Henry Madoff, Brendan D. Moran, Ernesto Pujol, Raqs Media Collective, Charles Renfro, Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Michael Shanks, Robert Storr, Anton Vidokle

  • Appropriation

    Appropriation

    David Evans

    Important documents and appraisals of appropriation art from Duchamp's readymades to feminist and postcolonial critique.

    Scavenging, replicating, or remixing, many influential artists today reinvent a legacy of “stealing” images and forms from other makers. Among the diverse, often contestatory strategies included under the heading “appropriation” are the readymade, détournement, pastiche, rephotography, recombination, simulation and parody. Although appropropriation is often associated with the 1980s practice of such artists as Peter Halley, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman, as well as the critical discourse of postmodernism and the simulacral theory of Jean Baudrillard, appropriation's significance for art is not limited by that cultural and political moment. In an expanded art-historical frame, this book recontextualizes avant-garde photomontage, the Duchampian readymade, and the Pop image among such alternative precursors as Francis Picabia, Bertolt Brecht, Guy Debord, Akasegawa Genpei, Dan Graham, Cildo Meireles, and Martha Rosler. In the recent work of many artists, including Mike Kelley, Glenn Ligon, Pierre Huyghe, and Aleksandra Mir, among others, appropriation is central to their critique of the contemporary world and vision for alternative futures

    Artists surveyed include Akasegawa Genpei, Santiago Álvarez, Art Workers Coalition, Ross Bleckner, Marcel Broodthaers, Victor Burgin, Maurizio Cattelan, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Douglas Gordon, Johan Grimonprez, Peter Halley, Hank Herron, Pierre Huyghe, Mike Kelley, Idris Khan, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Glenn Ligon, Steve McQueen, Alexandra Mir, Keith Piper, Richard Prince, Jorma Puranen, Cindy Sherman, John Stezaker, Retort, Martha Rosler, Philip Taaffe.

    Writers include Malek Alloula, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Nicolas Bourriaud, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Johanna Burton, Douglas Crimp, Thomas Crow, Guy Debord, Georges Didi-Huberman, Marcel Duchamp, Okwui Enwezor, Jean-Luc Godard, Isabelle Graw, Boris Groys, Raoul Hausmann, Sven Lütticken, Cildo Meireles, Kobena Mercer, Slobodan Mijuskovic, Laura Mulvey, Jo Spence, Elisabeth Sussman, Lisa Tickner, Reiko Tomii, Andy Warhol.