Projects and Select Abstracts
Oleg Aronson, Helen Petrovsky. What Remains of Art. Moscow: ICA, 2015. – 344 p. (ICA Records, Vol. II).
The collection of essays by Oleg Aronson and Helen Petrovsky continues to introduce the local artistic public to the works of the professors of the Moscow Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) that are devoted to the pressing problems of contemporary art and those schools in 20th century philosophy that examine the aims and meaning of aesthetic practices. The discussion of the subjects touched upon by Oleg Aronson and Helen Petrovsky in their articles and dialogues helps the reader to obtain an adequate understanding of the contemporary artistic problematic in the context of the crisis of the foundations of neoliberal capitalism.
Helen Petrovsky. Anti-Photography 2. 2nd augmented edition. Moscow: Tri kvadrata, 2015. – 184 p.: 48 p. inset (“Artes and media” collection, Vol. 7).
The book treats photography as neither aesthetic object nor a system of signs calling for decipherment. Instead emphasis is laid on that which indirectly manifests itself through “recognition” based on an affective community with others, as well as “documentariness” that asserts collective memory in place of a lost or failed individual reminiscence. In examining the photographs of Boris Mikhailov, Cindy Sherman and the polaroids of Andrei Tarkovsky, the author shows how the very technique of image production testifies to the changes in the “structures of feeling” and relations in society that remain unaccounted for by traditional analytical methods.
V.V. Bychkov. The Symbolical Aesthetics of Dionysius the Areopagite. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy, 2015. – 143 p.
The monograph is devoted to an analysis of Dionysius the Areopagite’s symbolical aesthetic system. This system includes all the principal phenomena of aesthetic experience, namely, beauty, light, fragrance, image, symbol, unlike likeness, and irrational knowledge.
N.A. Kormin. Aesthetic Epistemology. Moscow: Akademia Publishing House, 2015. – 64 p.
The author explores ways of constructing an aesthetic theory of knowledge. He focuses on the interrelation between the aesthetic and cognitive attitude to the world, on the indelible givenness of the aesthetic in the life of cognition. The book shows how the aesthetic property of the cognizing mind manifests itself in the global culture of technological innovations. Special attention is given to the problem of how philosophy and art create truth, being essentially its structures on the level of a work of art, as well as to how these cultural phenomena provide a more salient representation of what actually exists.
K.M. Dolgov. In Search of God and Man. Lecture Course. Moscow: MGIMO-University, 2014. – 360 p. (“Cultures and Religions of the World” collection).
The book is but a small part of an extensive research carried out in the form of lecture courses delivered by the author in universities and research institutions worldwide over several decades. In Moscow lectures were given at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, Diplomatic Academy, Lomonosov State University, Academy for Social Sciences, Moscow Conservatory, the Russian University of Theatre Arts, Surikov Art Institute, Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. The author has lectured on these topics in universities in the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, China, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, etc. Since lecturing led to the formulation of new problems that called for theoretical clarification, what gradually came into being was a comprehensive picture of the intellectual development of humankind, world religions, world philosophy and culture. This allows one to see the unity of all religions, civilizations and cultures in a new light, but also their differences and ways of overcoming the latter.
V.V. Bychkov. The Aesthetics of Saint Augustine. Moscow; St. Petersburg: Tsentr gumanitarnykh initsiativ, 2014. – 528 p.
The monograph analyzes Saint Aurelius Augustine’s implicitly given aesthetic system. This system includes all the basic phenomena of aesthetic experience, i.e., artistic creativity, aesthetic perception, the understanding of art and beauty as its content, the semiotic aspects of art, etc.
N.A. Kormin. The Aesthetic Hermeneutics of Knowledge. Part 1. Moscow: Akademia Publishing House, 2013 . – 63 p.
The book investigates the aesthetic structures of philosophical hermeneutics. The author shows how the aesthetic allows for an understanding of the ways in which epistemology experiences various intellectual phenomena, as well as an insight into the culture in which epistemology itself appears and evolves. The analysis reveals that the aesthetic transcendentals discover their cognitive foundations neither in the work of art nor in the thought about sensation or reason, but in the ability to transform the condition of the universe into a set of signals, in the existence of a genius loci that accounts for the evolution of knowledge resulting in a catharsis of thinking.
V.V. Bychkov, N.B. Mankovskaya, V.V. Ivanov. Trialogue Plus. Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya, 2013. – 496 p., ill.
The book is a continuation of Trialogue: Living Aesthetics and the Contemporary Philosophy of Art (2012). At the same time it is a study that is completely independent from it in terms of structure and method. The authors discuss many important issues in the contemporary philosophy of art, aesthetics, and theory of culture. The book presents a productive conversation on the issues of representation, expression, symbolization, and creation of simulacra in art; on the limits of its post-receptive hermeneutics; on aesthetics as a way of life. The authors analyze certain concepts of both contemporary theoreticians of art and classic thinkers. They discuss striking phenomena in recent art, including M. Abramovic, M. Houellebecq, J. Kounellis, S. Waltz, A. Balabanov.
Helen Petrovsky. Anonymous Communities. Moscow: Falanster, 2012. – 384 p.
The book explores the problem of community understood as that which conditions the reading of various texts of contemporary culture. Treated as a form of collective affectivity, or the “other” of a society that actually exists, community leaves its traces in literary, cinematic and photographic works. The author focuses on topics such as early 20th century avant-garde, the Utopian in mass culture, event and document (including the Holocaust, or Event with a capital letter), image in contradistinction to representation, the multitude along with some thoughts on rogue states.
A special place in this undertaking is occupied by contemporary art. It divines such situations in the sphere of perception that attest to the individual viewer always being preceded by a collective viewer, to the fact that in order to see we should already be together. The author emphasizes that isolated contemplation as a dominant form of cultural experience has come to an end; moreover, art that is basically pluralistic borrows its means of expression from popular culture and mass media. The book was awarded the 2013 “Innovation” State Prize in the field of contemporary visual art (“Art Theory and Criticism” category, 2012).
Culture and Revolution: Fragments of Soviet Experience of the 1920s and 30s. Ed. by H. Petrovsky. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy, 2012. – 128 p.
Resorting to the newest theoretical tools, the authors uncover latent aspects of the Soviet cultural experience of the 1920s and 30s. Avant-garde photography is analyzed in the perspective of the anthropology of perception; the national archive is examined through the various regimes of its use; the post-revolutionary transformation of labor and everyday life is presented as a form of biopolitics; a communicative logic underlying the projects of Alexander Bogdanov is brought into view. Special emphasis is given to the inner time of the avant-garde works of art. The book is addressed to experts in philosophical anthropology and the history of culture, as well as to a broader audience interested in a new take on the Soviet social and cultural experiment.
V.V. Bychkov, N.B. Mankovskaya, V.V. Ivanov, in collaboration with O.V. Bychkov. Trialogue: Living Aesthetics and the Contemporary Philosophy of Art. Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya, 2012. – 840 p., ill.
The monograph represents a unique investigation of topical problems in contemporary aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Written in an epistolary genre (170 letters) it resurrects the tradition of live scholarly discussions. Central place here is given to fundamental questions about the place of aesthetics in the contemporary world, the subject of aesthetics, high art, contemporary art practices, metaphysical and existential aspects of aesthetics and art.
Is the present-day crisis in art a consequence of the technological civilization? Is this crisis global and does it mark the end of Culture as the carrier of spirituality? What is the relationship between classics, non-classics, and post-non-classics in the sphere of aesthetic consciousness? Does a globalized world at all allow for genuine aesthetic experience and religious faith?
All these questions are sharply debated on the pages of the book. Its authors also examine in detail such topics as the limits of art, phases of aesthetic perception, the dialectic of artistic forms, aesthetic antinomies, hermeticism and the hermeneutics of art, excess and minimalism in art. The very form of disputation reveals a plethora of scholarly positions.
V.V. Bychkov. Old Russian Aesthetics. Moscow; St. Petersburg: Tsentr gumanitarnykh initsiativ, Patriarsheye podvorye khrama-domovogo muchenitsy Tatiany pri MGU, 2012. – 832 p., ill.
The monograph provides a complete picture of the origin and development of artistic and aesthetic culture in Old Russia over seven centuries (11–17th c.). It analyzes in detail one of its main sources, i.e., Byzantine aesthetics. The focus is on the development of the Slavic-Russian notions of beauty, sublimity, divine light, ascetic and artistic experience of grasping the universe; on the understanding of art and book culture by medieval Russians; on the Old Russian perception of liturgical life; on the synthesis of the arts in the Orthodox liturgy; on making sense of miracles, visions, signs; on the moral ideal of the human being that was prevalent in Old Russia. Specific attention is paid to the study of the theology, aesthetics, artistic language and sacral meaning of the Russian icon, or to the “thinking in colors” of the greatest icon painters Theophanes the Greek, Andrei Rublev, and Dionysius of Ferapontovo.
Aesthetics: Yesterday. Today. Always. Issue 5. Eds.: V. Bychkov, N. Mankovskaya. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy, 2012. – 184 p.
This issue of collected essays includes scholarly articles that fit into the three traditional subdivisions: “History of Aesthetics”; “Topical Problems”; “Living Aesthetics”. The first subdivision analyzes areas that have been underexplored in literature on the history of aesthetics: the problem of beauty and its modes (light and fragrance) in the Areopagitica; the notion of beauty and ugliness in Vyach. Ivanov; the concept of symbolization in the aesthetics of French symbolism. In the subdivision on aesthetic theory, aesthetic approaches are outlined to the phenomenon of the simulacrum using the example of contemporary music. In addition, a new problem is put forth for discussion: that of the aesthetics of the intellect, or of intellectual activity. The third subdivision is devoted to a topical discussion of the issues of artistic symbol and symbolization in the philosophy of art, in both classical and contemporary art.
K.M. Dolgov. From Kierkegaard to Camus. Philosophy, Aesthetics, Culture. 2nd enlarged ed. Moscow: Kanon +, 2011. – 462 p.
The book is a philosophical study of the contradictory quest for the meaning of human life, for universal values and ideals undertaken by the greatest Western European thinkers of the 20th century. In our complicated time rich in contradictions, conflicts and wars, the time of an unprecedented upsurge of science and technology when humankind is faced with the threat of a universal environmental, thermonuclear and biochemical catastrophe, it is with remarkable persistence and consistency that these thinkers, criticizing the existing social and political order, ideology and morals, the state and law, philosophy and culture, as well as respective social institutions, struggle against present-day barbarism, social and intellectual slavery, technocratic enthrallment and aggressive ignorance for the freedom and independence of human beings, their rights and freedoms, for the creation of an environment in which they could realize all their creative abilities and talents.
Despite significant differences of ideas and views, the thinkers in question share and develop a deeply humanistic outlook on the world and human beings, their place, role and importance in the modern world, in the development of culture and civilization, and in the shaping of guiding principles uniting the whole of humanity.
Nikolai Kormin. Metaphysical Symbolism. Part One. Moscow: Akademia Publishing House, 2011. – 160 p.
The first part of the book explores the origins and development of the idea of metaphysical symbolism in the doctrines of Parmenides, I. Kant and V. Solovyov, the concept of sign and the conception of analogies of experience that are internally connected with the thematic of symbols. The author also focuses on the symbolism of the existent.
The book addresses a wide spectrum of readers interested in the history of philosophy and aesthetics.
Helen Petrovsky. Theory of the Image. Moscow: RGGU Press, 2010. – 284 p.
The book is an examination of the main approaches to the problem of the visible and the invisible in the works of leading contemporary philosophers and cultural studies scholars, such as M. Merleau-Ponty, J.-L. Marion, M.-J. Mondzain, J.-L. Nancy, J. Derrida, R. Barthes, R. Krauss and V. Flusser. The author aims not only to present the views of these theorists in an innovative perspective (that of the insufficiency of “reading” the visual as a set of signs), but also to map out the subject of a new discipline, namely, visual studies. The publication is addressed to graduate and post-graduate students, university professors, as well as to a broader audience interested in the problems of contemporary visual culture.
The book was awarded the 2011 Andrei Bely Prize in the theory category.
Oleg Aronson, Helen Petrovsky. Beyond Imagination. Contemporary Philosophy and Contemporary Art. Lectures. Nizhny Novgorod: NCCA, 2009. – 230 p.
The book is a transcript of eight public lectures delivered in Nizhny Novgorod at the initiative of the local branch of the National Center for Contemporary Arts. It may serve as an introduction to both contemporary philosophy and contemporary art. The lecturers display different strategies in their treatment of the subject matter. Helen Petrovsky deals with an artist and a theorist whose work may be seen as mutually complementary in terms of the problems it poses. She analyzes A. Gursky and F. Jameson, Ch. Marker and R. Barthes, J. Wall and J. Derrida, S. Calle and W. Benjamin. Oleg Aronson unites art and philosophy by singling out a logic common to both. He treats such problems as politics of the image, destruction and deconstruction, the ethical dimension of art. Philosophy is thus not only a tool for the understanding of art but also a means for its creation.
Religious Aesthetics in Russia. Project headed by Victor Bychkov (2003–2006).
The project examines a trend in Russian aesthetics of the second half of the 19th and 20th centuries that remains virtually unexplored by Russian and foreign scholars alike, i.e., a system of aesthetic ideas developed by Russian religious thinkers and writers that can be presently defined as theurgic aesthetics. The researchers focus on the aesthetic and cultural views of V. Solovyov, V. Rozanov, D. Merezhkovsky, N. Berdyaev, P. Florensky, S. Bulgakov, N. Lossky, S. Frank, B. Vysheslavtsev, I. Ilyin, N. Arsenyev, etc. The study has been presented in a series of articles, the first part of N.A. Kormin’s book on Vladimir Solovyov’s aesthetics (see Department bibliography), as well as talks at different conferences and seminars.
Aesthetics at the Turn of Cultural Traditions. Project authored and headed by Nadezhda Mankovskaya (2001–2004).
The project focuses on the burning problem of the transformation of artistic and aesthetic paradigms in the 20th and 21st centuries, the specific character of the transition from classics to non-classics in terms of both theory and artistic practice. The book discusses the self-reflexivity of non-classical aesthetics connected with the transformation of its subject, conceptual apparatus and methods for the study of artistic culture. Issues of the transition from modernism to post- and post-postmodernism, from structuralism to post-structuralism, from art to art practices are discussed in this perspective. The authors expand on the specific features of the new paradigm in film, photography, the Internet, music, literature and painting. They explore the problematic of aesthetic center and periphery (marginality in aesthetics and art). The research project has led to the publication of a book with the same title and several articles in academic journals.
Lexicon of Non-Classics. Project authored and headed by Victor Bychkov (1998–2002).
This is an encyclopedic analytical and empirical study of the greatest transitional period in the history of culture – that of 20th century artistic and aesthetic culture – from classical Culture to a fundamentally different aesthetic consciousness and art processes of the 21st century technogenic and computer civilization, or non-classical aesthetics. The project is implemented in the form of an open hypertext made of articles correlating with each other and other intertextual phenomena. It reveals the specific nature, main tendencies, directions, the conceptual system used to describe them, as well as the leading figures of 20th century artistic and aesthetic culture in the context of the major paradigms of the European classical tradition. The former is seen as the logically illogical fulfillment of the latter. The study focuses precisely on innovative, non-classical, post-classical phenomena and personalities that define more than a century-long movement in cultural space from the avant-garde through modernism to postmodernism, taking place primarily in the fields of aesthetic consciousness and the visual arts, but also in literature and music from Symbolism and Impressionism to the art projects of the late 20th century. The study has been published as an encyclopedic dictionary (see Department bibliography). Its entries written in accessible form and aimed at the widest reading public cater to the latest achievements in the humanities and contain a detailed bibliography. The book concludes with an Index and Summary.
Kornevishche (Rhizome). Non-Classical Aesthetics. Project authored and headed by Victor Bychkov (1996–2000).
This is an experimental research project aimed at a comprehensive study of the current state of aesthetics and artistic practice in their most advanced, contemporary forms. It provides an analysis of the most significant phenomena of aesthetic experience at different levels (“sections”) on the basis of various analytical discourses, including cutting-edge ones (V. Bychkov’s notion of post-adequacies). The project has resulted in the publication of four volumes of research materials (see Department bibliography).