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Anton Vidokle, artist and editor of e-flux journal, engages history and speculative social theories through art. His recent project Immortality for All consists of three short essay films on the mostly-forgotten philosophical and cultural movement of Cosmism, which was informed by Marxist thoughts and Russian Orthodox traditions and proposed a radical vision of the future. Nikolai Fedorov, founder of the movement, regarded the resurrection of all ancestors and the achievement of immortality as the “common task” of humankind. The first film in the series, This Is Cosmos, introduces the movement’s foundational ideas, most prominently the idea that death is a mistake that should be fixed via technological means. The second, The Communist Revolution Was Caused by the Sun, centers on biophysicist and cosmist Alexander Chizhevsky’s study of the effects of the cosmos (solar emissions) on socio-political behaviors. Finally, the third, Immortality and Resurrection for All!, examines the cosmists’ conception of a new museology, which regards the museum not only as a place to honor the dead, but also as a place for preserving lives ready for future resurrection. Interwoven into the films are surrealistic performances shot in rural Kazakhstan, a zoological museum, and other locations haunted by cosmist influences. The trilogy paints a picture of cosmism that is equally illuminating, speculative, and poetically absurd.
Russian Cosmism is a converging point of many threads being explored in this biennial. It demonstrates a synthesis of cosmology and technology. It expresses reverence toward the past and a desire to unify it with the future, which resists the linear social time constructed by global capitalism. It promotes a corporeal, arguably transhumanist immortality, yet also conveys a candid love for humanity. It manages to wonderfully complicate the conversation on immortality.