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.

  • Particular Cases

    Particular Cases

    Boris Groys

    This collection of essays does not aim to illustrate a prefabricated theory of art, but rather follows the impulses given by artworks themselves. Philosopher and art critic Boris Groys writes about significant works and artists over the last century that have pushed his thinking in new directions. His compelling arguments do not try to replace the singular content or message of an artwork. Instead, his writings are inspired by art as a mind-changing practice—as if contemporary artists, completely secularized, can still produce a kind of conversion within the spectator. Particular Cases is an original exploration of pivotal concerns related to the development of contemporary art—originality and repetition, the valuation of artworks, materiality and production, historical and personal archives, and the language of power.

    Featuring essays on Paweł Althamer, Francis Alÿs, Yael Bartana, Paul Chan, Olga Chernysheva, Marcel Duchamp, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Martin Honert, Rebecca Horn, IRWIN, Wassily Kandinsky, Piero Manzoni, Anri Sala, Thomas Schütte, Mladen Stilinović, Inga Svala Thorsdottir and Wu Shanzhuan, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol

    • Paperback $28.00
  • 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

    • Hardcover $27.95 £22.00
  • Moscow Symposium

    Conceptualism Revisited

    Boris Groys

    Beyond the view that multiple, globally dispersed conceptual art practices provide a heterogeneity of cultural references, Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions propose much more: other dimensions altogether, other spatiotemporal politics, other timescales, other understandings of matter, other forms of life—not only as works, but as a basic condition for being able to perceive artworks in the first place. Could it be that the Moscow Conceptualists were so elusive or saturated with the particularities of life in a specific economic and intellectual culture that they precluded integration into a broader art historical narrative? If so, then their simultaneously modest and radical approach to form may present a key to understanding the resilience and flexibility of a more general sphere of global conceptualisms that anticipate, surpass, or even bend around their purported origins in canonical European and American regimes of representation, as well as what we currently understand to be the horizon of artistic practice.

    e-flux journal Series edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

    Contributors Claire Bishop, Keti Chukhrov, Ekaterina Degot, Jörg Heiser, Terry Smith, Anton Vidokle, and Sarah Wilson

    • Paperback $16.00
  • Going Public

    Boris Groys

    If all things in the world can be considered as sources of aesthetic experience, then art no longer holds a privileged position. Rather, art comes between the subject and the world, and any aesthetic discourse used to legitimize art must also necessarily serve to undermine it. Following his recent books Art Power and The Communist Postscript, in Going Public Boris Groys looks to escape entrenched aesthetic and sociological understandings of art—which always assume the position of the spectator, of the consumer. Let us instead consider art from the position of the producer, who does not ask what it looks like or where it comes from, but why it exists in the first place.

    Boris Groys is Professor at New York University and Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of Design, Karlsruhe. He is the author of many books, including The Total Art of Stalinism, Ilya Kabakov: The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment, Art Power, The Communist Postscript, History Becomes Form: Moscow Conceptualism.

    e-flux journal Series edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

    • Paperback $16.00
  • 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 £23.00
    • Paperback $16.95 £13.99
  • 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 £24.95
    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • 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 £19.95
    • Paperback $19.95 £14.95

Contributor

  • What about Activism?

    What about Activism?

    Steven Henry Madoff

    Curators and thinkers about contemporary art consider how to engage audiences in creative forms of protest and advocacy.

    With the global rise of a politics of shock, driven by nationalist and authoritarian regimes, what paths to resistance and sites of sanctuary can cultural institutions offer? In this book, more than twenty of the world's leading curators and thinkers about contemporary art offer powerful case studies from their own work, along with historical and theoretical perspectives, that point the way for cultural producers everywhere to engage audiences in creative forms of protest and advocacy capable of confronting the fierce political challenges of today and tomorrow.

    Contributors Defne Ayas, Ute Meta Bauer, Nicolas Bourriaud, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Joshua Decter, Clémentine Deliss, Irmgard Emmelhainz, Boris Groys, Hou Hanru, Pi Li, Maria Lind, Steven Henry Madoff, Antonia Majaca, Gabi Ngcobo, Hans Ulricht Obrist, Jack Persekian with Alison Ramer, María Belén Saéz de Ibarra, Terry Smith, Nato Thompson, Mick Wilson, Brian Kuan Wood, Tirdad Zolghadr

    • Paperback $26.00
  • Divided We Stand

    Divided We Stand

    9th Busan Biennale 2018

    Jörg Heiser, Cristina Ricupero, and Gahee Park

    Titled Divided We Stand, the 9th Busan Biennale in South Korea focused on the theme of divided or formerly territories created because of war, conflict, or colonization, and also considered individuals' feelings of separation, anxiety, fear, or paranoia that result from such geopolitical traumas. Featuring sixty-six artists and artist teams from thirty-four countries, the biennial was organized under the curatorial direction of Cristina Ricupero and Jörg Heiser, with the assistance of guest curator Gahee Park, and took place at the newly built Museum of Contemporary Art Busan (MoCA Busan) and the brutalist-style former Bank of Korea in Busan. The two venues reflected the biennial's theme: work shown at MOCA Busan examined past and current divisions left by the Cold War era, while the second venue comprised work that reflected on our current situation through the lens of science fiction.

    This comprehensive catalogue includes in-depth essays on the theme of the biennial from Boris Groys, Mohammed Hanif, Heonik Kwon, Nina Power, Hito Steyerl, and Wladimir Velminski, as well as individual artist pages and photographs from the exhibition.

    Participating artists: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Bani Abidi, Chantal Akerman, Dora Longo Bahia, Maja Bajević, Khaled Barakeh, Yael Bartana, Jean-Luc Blanc, Oscar Chan Yik Long, Onejoon Che, Mina Cheon, Chin Cheng-Te, Sunah Choi, Phil Collins, Christoph Dettmeier, Dias and Riedweg, Smadar Dreyfus, Eva Grubinger, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, Flaka Haliti, Andy Hope 1930, Hsu Chia-Wei, Im Youngzoo, Joo Hwang, Yunsun Jung, Nikita Kadan, Wanuri Kahiu, Amar Kanwar, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Hayoun Kwon, Oliver Laric, Minwhee Lee & Yun Choi, Gabriel Lester and Jonas Lund, Minouk Lim, Laura Lima and Zé Carlos Garcia, Lin + Lam, Liu Ding, Dora Longo Bahia, Marko Lulić, Fabian Marti, Truwant + Rodet and Eun Kyung Park, Augustin Maurs, Metahaven, Nástio Mosquito, Henrike Naumann, Marcel Odenbach, Melik Ohanian, Ferhat Özgür, Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Susan Philipsz, Adrian Piper, Min Jeong Seo, Bruno Serralongue, Tayfun Serttas, Hito Steyerl, Jan Svenungsson, Yuichiro Tamura, Javier Téllez, The Propeller Group, Suzanne Treister, Lars von Trier, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Jane and Louise Wilson, Ming Wong, Ulrich Wüst, Yoo Yeun Bok and Kim Yongtae, Zhang Peili

    Copublished with Busan Biennale Organizing Committee

    • Hardcover $28.00
  • Intersubjectivity, Volume 2

    Intersubjectivity, Volume 2

    Scripting the Human

    Lou Cantor and Katherine Rochester

    Intersubjectivity considered as both historical phenomenon and nascent mode of present-day relation.

    This collection of essays considers the relationship between performance, subjectivity, and human agency. Encompassing both historical and speculative perspectives, this book explores the ways in which nonhuman (or trans/post-human) entities complicate notions of subjectivity and exert intersubjective pressures of their own on social, political, scientific, and philosophical discourses. Ranging from continental philosophy to more recent formulations that derive from systems theory, trans identity, and the emergent field of bot pedagogy, It approaches intersubjectivity as both historical phenomenon and nascent mode of present-day relation.

    Contributions by Anselm Franke, Avram Alpert, Boris Groys, Erika Landström, Goshka Macuga, Hannah Black, Harry Burke, Jeanne Vaccaro, Josh Kline, Lucky Dragons, Mashinka Firunts Hakopian, Natasha Stagg, Sarah Harrison, Victoria Ivanova

    • Paperback $22.00
  • Art without Death

    Art without Death

    Conversations on Russian Cosmism

    e-flux journal

    According to the nineteenth-century teachings of Nikolai Fedorov—librarian, religious philosopher, and progenitor of Russian cosmism—our ethical obligation to use reason and knowledge to care for the sick extends to curing the dead of their terminal status. The dead must be brought back to life using means of advanced technology—resurrected not as souls in heaven, but in material form, in this world, with all their memories and knowledge. 

    Fedorov's call to redistribute vital forces is wildly imaginative in emancipatory ambition. Today, it might appear arcane in its mystical panpsychism or eccentric in its embrace of realities that exist only in science fiction or certain diabolical strains of Silicon Valley techno-utopian ideology. It can be difficult to grasp how it ended up influencing the thinking behind a generation of young revolutionary anarchists and Marxists who incorporated Fedorov's ideas under their own brand of biocosmism before the 1917 Russian Revolution, even giving rise to the origins of the Soviet space program.    

    This book of interviews and conversations with today's most compelling living and resurrected artists and thinkers seeks to address the relevance of Russian cosmism and biocosmism in light of its influence on the Russian artistic and political vanguard as well as on today's art-historical apparatuses, weird materialisms, extinction narratives, and historical and temporal politics. This unprecedented collection of exchanges on cosmism asks how such an encompassing and imaginative, unapologetically humanist and anthropocentric strain of thinking could have been so historically and politically influential, especially when placed alongside the politically inconsequential—but in some sense equally encompassing—apocalypticism of contemporary realist imaginaries.

    Contributors Bart De Baere, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Boris Groys, Elena Shaposhnikova, Marina Simakova, Hito Steyerl, Anton Vidokle, Brian Kuan Wood, Arseny Zhilyaev, Esther Zonsheim

    Published in parallel with the eponymous exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

    Series edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Stephen Squibb, Anton VidokleDesign by Jeff Ramsey, front cover design by Liam Gillick

    • Paperback $24.00
  • 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

    • Paperback $43.95 £34.00
  • 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.

    • Paperback $24.95 £16.95