artist / participant
Anton Vidokle and the Institute of the Cosmos
July 1–October 28, 2023
Conversation: July 1, 3–5pm, Anton Vidokle and Sarah Wilson
Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland presents the exhibition Anton Vidokle and the Institute of the Cosmos. The exhibition features four films that look at Cosmism through themes of biopolitics, immortalism, interplanetarianism, revolution, nutrition, utopia, resurrection, and museology: Autotrofia (2020–23) and the trilogy This Is Cosmos (2014), The Communist Revolution Was Caused by the Sun (2015), and Immortality and Resurrection for All! (2017). It also features a specially designed Institute of the Cosmos gallery; part library, part archive, and part classroom, this includes a timeline of Cosmism and an extensive selection of historical and contemporary texts exploring Cosmism and related topics.
Cosmism is a constellation of theories and projects—philosophical, artistic, scientific—informed by the writings of the philosopher Nikolai Fedorov (1829–1903). It brings together discourses of Marxism, Orthodox Christianity, Enlightenment, and Eastern philosophy. Furthermore, it involves conceptions of technological immortality, resurrection, and space travel, and speculates on how these might be materialized through artistic, social, and scientific means.
Vidokle’s films are “tableaux vivants” operating between fact and fiction, reality and otherness, poetics and ideology. They trace the history and current relevance of Cosmism and evolve into broader reflections about historical and more recent understandings of death and technologicalimmortality. They elucidate how Cosmism aims to overcome time-space finitude through cooperative, creative endeavors toward a “more-than-human” universalism.
The films mix voice-over narration, soundtracks (original scores and ambient sound), dialogue, quotes from essays by Fedorov and other thinkers, and intellectual and aesthetic references ranging from Constructivism to speculative interactions between natural phenomena and societal transformations. They were shot in Altai in Siberia, Almaty and Karagandy in Kazakhstan, Moscow, Tokyo, Kyiv, Oliveto-Lucano in Italy, and beyond, and employed local amateur actors and extras, including artists, farmers, taxi drivers, dancers, and security guards.
This Is Cosmos introduces the cosmos as not only outer space but also something involving invisible cosmic energies moving through the currents of terrestrial-aquatic ecologies, both within our bodies and as part of our everyday lives. The Communist Revolution Was Caused by the Sun analyzes philosophical and political semblances between Cosmism and Communism, as well as the Sun’s impact on history. Immortality and Resurrection for All! focuses on the museum as a site of resurrection, looking at collection and conservation as means to the material restoration of life. Autotrofia considers the willingness and capacity for humans to become autotrophic beings, no longer controlled by the heterotrophic desire to kill and eat other living organisms.
The Institute of the Cosmos was initiated by Arseny Zhilyaev and Anton Vidokle in 2019 as “a space for a creative investigation of the materiality of the cosmos.” The gallery at Sirius Arts Centre dedicated to the Institute of the Cosmos is a site-specific manifestation of varying elements of the digital version of the Institute of the Cosmos, and serves as the setting for a series of events—screenings, reading group sessions, and panel discussions—that meditate on, or prompt the emergence of, situated radical imaginaries and bodies of knowledge. Anton Vidokle and the Institute of the Cosmos is produced by Sirius Arts Centre and curated by Miguel Amado, director, in dialogue with Vidokle.
Anton Vidokle in conversation with Sarah Wilson: Anton Vidokle and Professor Sarah Wilson, of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, exchange views on the exhibition and engage with the legacies and the political and aesthetic potential of Cosmist ideas and imagery.
About the artist
Anton Vidokle is an artist and filmmaker based in New York and Berlin. He is a founding editor of e-flux journal. His films have been presented at museums, festivals, and events worldwide, including the Yokohama Triennale (2020), the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2019), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017), the Venice Biennale (2015), the Istanbul Biennial (2015), the Moscow Biennale (2015), Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012), and the Taipei Biennial (2012), as well as at the Berlinale International Film Festival, the Locarno Film Festival, the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival, and Doclisboa.