The revolutionary Soviet art produced between the 1910s and the 1930s still has a significant input into many aspects of our cultural model. However, the predominant means of evoking it have historically fluctuated between fetishising its formal inventions and exalting its idealism, expressed as a wishful impossibility within a chimera (viewing «The Revolution» as if it were a mythological monster that always ends up eating its children).

Some dominant views on Soviet avant-gardes have stifled their nature as event, that of an influential outbreak of singularity and difference in relation to the future of the history of art as well as that of its politics. They have also avoided the strong resonance that the power of such an event has had – from then until now – in relation to the search for a politicality to art which, out of necessity, always has to be renewed. This seminar aims to encourage thinking about the currency of certain debates that have taken place around revolutionary Soviet art in two ways: How is the shock wave of that event still felt today, and in what ways can some of its procedures, models and tools be applied?

To that end, this seminar program includes a three-way approach to the case at hand. First, articulation of a genealogy; second, application of a critical reading; and third, tracking of the currency of some of the debates and practices, from which, for this seminar, we've chosen to highlight the ones that arose with the advent of productivism and factography.

Each of these approaches is bound to generate as many questions as answers: What is the potential currency of an art based on production in the midst of a revolution of the capitalist model of production? What would its post-Fordist project be? How can we implement an articulation between art and production that doesn't contribute to expanding aestheticised forms of politics or mass consumption? What is the meaning of art dedicated to recording the facts in the framework of the societies of surveillance and control? Where are today's processes for the radical transformation of society, which the new politicalities of art should contribute to?

This Programme forms part of the PEI's open Programme


27 March from 6 pm to 9 pm and 28 March, from 11 am to 8 pm

Friday, 27 March 2009

6 pm
Devin Fore: Labor sans phrase

7.30 pm
Christina Kiaer: Artistic production of the Socialist object

Saturday, 28 March 2009

11 am
Doug Ashford (Group Material): The Reinvention of Art Activism

12.30 pm
Dimitry Vilensky (Chto Delat?): Art Collectivism after the Avant-Garde

4 pm
Makrolab: New Links between Art and Science

5 pm
Hito Steyerl: Documenting (in) Societies of Control

6.30 pm
Debate and conclusions with Brian Holmes


Devin Fore is an assistant professor in the German department at Princeton University. He is currently research fellow at The American Academy in Berlin. He has published essays in the journals New German Critique and Grey Room, and has edited a special issue of October on the subject of Soviet factography.

Cristina Kiaer is an assistant professor in Art History at Northwestern University. She is the author of Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism and was the editor of Everyday Life in Early Soviet Russia: Taking the Revolution Inside.

Doug Ashford is a teacher at the Cooper Union School of Art. He is also a visual artist, and was a long-term member of the artists collective Group Material, with which he participated in over forty exhibitions and public projects, including The Castle, Democracy and AIDS Timeline.

Dmitry Vilensky is a member of Chto delat? a workgroup founded in St Petersburg in 2003 with the goal of merging theory, art and activism. Its members include artists, critics, philosophers and writers.

Makrolab is an art-science project that was founded by the Slovenian artist Marko Pelkjhan. It is a temporary sustainable laboratory designed to support artists and scientists who live alongside each other in isolation for periods of up to 120 days.

Hito Steyerl is a Berlin-based filmmaker and writer. She is currently Visiting Professor for Experimental Media Creation at the University of Arts, Berlin. She writes about the political implications of art.

Brian Holmes is an art critic, cultural theorist and activist. He is the author of Personality and Hieroglyphs of the Future and Unleashing the Collective Phantoms: Essays in Reverse Imagineering, and blogger at Continental Drift.

Tel: 93 481 79 00
pei [at] macba [dot] cat



Conclusions with Brian Holmes
Documenting (in) Societies of Control
New Links between Art and Science
Art Collectivism after the Avant-Garde
The Reinvention of Art Activism
Artistic production of the Socialist object
Labor sans phrase
Labor sans phrase
Artistic production of the Socialist object
New Links between Art and Science
Documenting (in) Societies of Control
Conclusions with Brian Holmes