Utopia after Utopia

a Yale University research initiative

Political Violence Conference Participants

Political Violence and Militant Aesthetics After Socialism


Vladimir Alexandrov received a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton and taught at Harvard before coming to Yale in 1986, where he is B. E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures.  He has published on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature and on literary theory.  His last book, The Black Russian, is the biography of Frederick Bruce Thomas, the son of former slaves in Mississippi who became a multimillionaire entrepreneur in tsarist Moscow and the “Sultan of Jazz” in Constantinople.  Vladimir Alexandrov’s current projects are a musical version of  The Black Russian and a biography of Boris Savinkov, the Russian revolutionary terrorist, political activist, and writer.”

Pavel Arsenev is a poet, artist, and theorist. His poems have been translated into English, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Bulgarian and Polish languages. Books of poems include: “Things that won’t fit inside your head” published in Petersburg by AnnaNova, 2005, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” (Kraft, 2011). As an artist, he works with the graphic aspects and materilisation of (poetical) text. His articles have been published in New Literary Observer, Moscow Art Magazine, Political critique, the newspaper of the Chto Delat collective. He is the editor-in-chief of the literary-critical magazine Translit and a recipient of the Andrei Bely Prize (2012). He is currently was a Research Fellow at the Center of Research of Comparative Epistemology of Linguistics of Central and Eastern Europe (University of Lausanne, Switzerland).

Marijeta Bozovic is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University, and a specialist in Russian and Balkan literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Her research interests include poetry, avant-gardes, diasporas and transnational culture, translation and adaptation across media, and the poetics and politics of the Danube river. Her first book, Nabokov’s Canon: From Onegin to Ada (forthcoming with Northwestern University Press in 2016) examines canon formation, transnational literatures and struggles with other media. Her second book project, Avant-Garde Post– : Radical Poetics After the Soviet Union turns to contemporary political engaged poetry in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Molly Brunson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University. She writes broadly on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature and art, and is particularly interested in theories and practices of realism and the relationship between the verbal and visual arts. Her first book, Russian Realisms: Literature and Painting, 1840-1890, posits a new aesthetic theory of nineteenth-century realism that makes commensurate the traditions of Russian literature and painting. She is currently working on a second book project that explores the history of visual perspective (and literary point of view) in Russian culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.

Ilya Budraitskis is a historian, curator and activist. He is a member of editorial board of the Moscow Art Magazine, OpenLeft.ru and LeftEast project. Since 2013 he is chief of the multimedia library department of the National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA, Moscow). Budraitsikis co-edited (with Ekaterina Degot and Marta Dziewanska) and contributed to the book Post-post-Soviet? Art, Politics and Society in Russia in the Turn of the Decade (Chicago University Press, 2013) and is the co-editor of (with Arseniy Zhilyaev) and contributor to Pedagogical Poem (Marsilio Editori, 2014).

Keti Chukhrov is an associate professor at the Department of Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Russian State University for the Humanities and a head of the Theory Department at the National Center for Contemporary Art. Since 2003 she has served on the editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine. Chukhrov has authored numerous texts on art theory, culture, politics, and philosophy. Her full-length books include: To Be – To Perform. ‘Theatre’ in Philosophical Criticism of Art (2011); Pound &£ (1999), and two volumes of dramatic poetry: Just Humans (2010) and War of Quantities (2004). Chukhrov lives and works in Moscow. Her latest performances include: “Communion”, (May Congress 2010; Perm Poetry Festival SlovaNova 2010), “Elpida and the Greeks”, NCCA, in collaboration with Nick Lgovsky and Sergei Epishev (2010), “Afghan Kuzminki” – Theatre.doc, in the frame of the Moscow IV Biennial (curator Andrei Parshchikov), the Small Arsenale, Kiev, in the frame of the Kiev Biennial, and at the Wiener Festwochen. With “Love-machines,” her latest video-play, she participated at the Bergen Assembly.

Jodi Dean is the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She is the author or editor of eleven books, including Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (Duke University Press, 2009), Blog Theory (Polity, 2010), and The Communist Horizon (Verso 2012). Her book, Crowds and Party, will appear this fall from Verso.

Marta Dziewanska is a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, and a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Co-editor, with Claire Bishop, of “1968-1989. Political Upheaval and Artistic Change” (Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw 2009), editor of “Ion Grigorescu. In the Body of the Victim” (Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2010). Co-editor, with Ekaterina Degot and Ilya Budraitskis, of “Post-post Soviet? Art, Politics and Society in Russia at the turn of the Decade” (Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2013), co-editor, with Eric de Chassey, of “Andrzej Wróblewski: Recto / Verso” (Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2015). In 2010 she organized, with Claire Bishop, a research seminar “Where the West Ends?” devoted to the art and culture in today’s Russia; in 2013, with Andre Lepecki, a symposium “Performance as a Paradigm of arts”, and, with Eric de Chassey, “Andrzej Wróbewski/ From within / From Without”. She also collaborated on several exhibition projects : “Awkward Objects. Alina Szapocznikow and Maria Bartuszova, Pauline Boty, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Paulina Ołowska” (with Joanna Mytkowska, Agata Jakubowska and Maria Matuszkiewicz), “Ion Grigorescu in the Body of the Victim. 1969-2008” (with Kathrin Rhomberg). In 2011 involved in the preparation of the monographic show of Alina Szapocznikow at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels: “Alina Szapocznikow. Sculpture Undone. 1955-1973” (with Elena Filipovic and Joanna Mytkowska, the show was presented at Wexner Centre, Columbus, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; MoMA NY). In 2014 curated “Maria Bartuszova. Provisional Forms” and in 2015 co-curated (with Eric de Chassey) “Andrzej Wróblewski: Recto / Verso. 1948-1949, 1956-1957” at Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and at Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.

Marta Figlerowicz is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Yale, and a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. Her work engages with recent trends in critical theory including new materialism, affect theory, and queer studies. 

Lucy Gellman earned her B.A. in Art History & Archaeology at Washington University in Saint Louis in 2011 and her M.A. in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2013. She has held research assistantships at the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV; and Print Quarterly. She is currently the Florence B. Selden Fellow in the Yale University Art Gallery’s Department of Prints and Drawings and an arts and culture writer for the New Haven Independent and The Arts Paper.

Maria Hristova is a Ph.D. candidate in the Slavic Studies Department at Yale University. She specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century Russian and Balkan literature, visual arts, and culture. Currently, Maria is finishing her dissertation, “Postmodern Pilgrims: in Search of Spirituality and National Identity in Contemporary Russian Travel Literature and Film.” Maria is the author of “Imagining My Country: Religion and Nature in Contemporary Russian Domestic Travel Writing” (State, Religion, and Church expected in 2015), as well as the co-author of “Language and Conflict: Minority Rights in Contemporary Serbia, Croatia, and Macedonia” (Balkanistica 28). Maria’s interests include religion, language, ethnonationalism, gender, spatial studies, and new media.

Dragan Kujundzic is a Professor of Jewish, Germanic and Slavic Studies, and Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida. He is the author of numerous articles in critical theory, deconstruction and literary criticism. He has edited “Deconstruction, A Merry Science” (1985), “Khoraographies for Jacques Derrida on July 15, 2000” (2000), “Who or What—Jacques Derrida” (2008) and two volumes on J. Hillis Miller, “J” (2005) and “Provocations to Reading” (2005). His other publications include monographs “Critical Exercises” (Novi Sad, 1983), “The Returns of History” (New York, 1997) and “Tongue in Heat” (Moscow, 2003). He has also edited volumes on Walter Benjamin, Mikhail Bakhtin and Samuel Weber. He is currently working on the new monograph, “Ghost Scriptum.” His documentary film, “The First Sail: J. Hillis Miller” has been released to critical acclaim and the book about the film with essays by various authors is coming out this summer.  “Frozen Time, Liquid Memories” (2011) about the Holocaust in Serbia and France, has been screened in Europe and the United States and had conferences held about it (Dublin, Ireland), and the screening in the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. ​

Martha Lewis is an artist and curator. She is Education Curator at Artspace New Haven and, in addition to co-organizing Vertical Reach with Sarah Fritchey, has curated in their gallery such shows as: CT (UN) Bound (in collaboration with the Yale University Art Gallery, Fetish Objects, Instructions Not Included, Agit-Crop, Shiny Pop, and SCRAWL. Additionally, Martha has organized the exhibits: From the Archive of Unrealized Dreams: Unmade Projects, at The Institute Library, in New Haven CT, and Yarn Theory and Domestic Violence/ The Facts Are In, at PS. 122 Gallery in New York. She currently teaches experimental drawing at the Art Students League in New York and has taught drawing at Columbia University, through The College Seminar Program at Yale University and at the University Botanical Gardens at Oxford, UK. Martha has exhibited her own work nationally and internationally. Her work focuses on drawing, books, knowledge, and the history of science. In addition to her studio practice, she currently hosts a radio show through WPKN FM, called Live Culture, which centers on discussions about contemporary Arts and Culture. Martha holds an MFA from Yale University, and a BFA from The Cooper Union in New York.

Mark Lipovetsky is Professor of Russian Studies at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Colorado-Boulder. Since the 1990s, Russian postmodernist literature and culture remain in the center of his interests. In 1996, he defended one of the first doctoral dissertations on this subject. He is the author of more than a hundred articles published in the US, Russia, and Europe, eight books, and co-editor of nine volumes on Russian literature and culture. Among his monographs are the following: Russian Postmodernist Fiction: Dialogue with Chaos (1999), Modern Russian Literature: 1950s-1990s (co-authored with Naum Leiderman, 2001 and six consequent reprints editions), Paralogies: Transformation of (Post)modernist Discourse in Russian Culture of the 1920s-2000s (Moscow: NLO, 2008), Performing Violence: Literary and Theatrical Experiments of New Russian Drama (Bristol: Intellect Press, 2009, with Birgit Beumers; Russian version – 2012), and Charms of Cynical Reason: The Transformations of the Trickster Trope in Soviet and Post-Soviet Culture (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2011). Volumes, co-edited by him, include Dictionary of Literary Biography: Russian Writers Since 1980 (2003), anthologies of Russian and Soviet wondertales (2005) and Russian twentieth-century short stories (2011), Jolly Little Characters: Cult Heroes of the Soviet Childhood (2008), and Non-Canonical Classic: Dmitri A. Prigov (2010). Currently, Lipovetsky works on a critical biography of Dmitry Prigov and edits his collected works. Lipovetsky’s works were nominated for Russian Little Booker Prize (1997) and short-listed for the Andrey Bely Prize (2008). In 2009-12, worked on the jury for Russian literary prize NOS (in 2011-12 as chair).

Artemy Magun is Professor of Democratic Theory, Chair of the Department, Department of Political Science and Sociology, European University at Saint-Petersburg. PhD (Political Science), University of Michigan, Doctor in Philosophy, University of Strasbourg. Author of Negative Revolution (Bloomsbury 2013), Edinstvo i Odinochestvo (NLO 2011, in Russian), editor of Politics of the One (Bloomsbury 2013). Articles in History of Political Thought, Telos, Continental Philosophy Review, Rethinking Marxism, and other academic journals. Member of artistic/intellectual group “Chto Delat” (St-Petersburg-Moscow).

Anastasiya Osipova is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University, where she is completing her dissertation about the notion of life in Soviet literary theory and in the novels of production of the 1920s and 1930s.  Her research and teaching interests include Soviet aesthetics, literary theory and cinema, their connection to nineteenth-century European philosophy, and their afterlives in contemporary art and culture.
She is a co-founder and an editor of Cicada Press, an imprint that pursues politically engaged poetic texts.  Recently, she edited and translated “Circling the Square: Maidan and Cultural Insurgency in Ukraine,” a collection of statements and artworks by Ukrainian and Russian artists and poets.  Her writing on art and cinema has appeared in publications such as The Brooklyn Rail, Artforum, and Texte Zur Kunst.

Serguei Alex. Oushakine is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton, where he directs the Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies. His research is concerned with transitional processes and situations: from the formation of newly independent national cultures after the collapse of the Soviet Union to post-traumatic identities and hybrid cultural forms. His current project explores Eurasian postcoloniality as a means of affective reformatting of the past and as a form of retroactive victimhood. Oushakine edited special collections of essays(in English and Russian) on affect and cinema, new materialism, early Soviet laughter, contemporary nomadism, and architectural memories. His research was supported by the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. During 2014-2015, Oushakine is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Alexei Penzin is Reader at Faculty of Arts of the University of Wolverhampton (UK), and Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. His major fields of interest are philosophical anthropology, Marxism, Soviet and post-Soviet studies, and the philosophy of art. He lectures widely on these topics and has participated in many international research projects, seminars, and symposia. Penzin has written numerous articles including the essay Rex Exsomnis: Sleep and Subjectivity in Capitalist Modernity (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012). He is a member of the group Chto Delat [What is to Be Done?], which works in the space between theory, art, and political activism. Penzin is also a member of editorial boards of the journal “Stasis” (Saint-Petersburg) and the Moscow Art Magazine. He currently lives and works between London and Moscow.

Jonathan Platt is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. He specializes in Russian and Soviet literature, art, and culture. Recent publications include “Snow White and the Enchanted Palace: A Reading of Lenin’s Architectural Cult” (Representations, 2015), “Soviet Sculpture in the Expanded FIeld” (Chto Delat newspaper, 2014), “Zoya Kosmodemianskaya between Sacrifice and Extermination” (NLO, 2013), and “The Poetics of Dry Transgression in Pushkin’s Necroerotic Verse” (Taboo Pushkin, Wisconsin UP, 2012). His monograph, Greetings, Pushkin!: Monumentalism, Eschatology, and the Russian Bard in 1937 (forthcoming through Pittsburgh UP and EUSPb Press) examines discourses of modernity in the Stalinist celebration of Pushkin. In 2014, as part of the Manifesta 10 Contemporary Art Biennial, he curated the four-day conference, No Radical Art Actions are Going to Help Here…: Political Violence and Militant Aesthetics after Socialism, including scholarly talks, literary readings, and artworks by contemporary Russian artists and intellectuals. He has translated the poetry of Kirill Medvedev, Roman Osminkin, Galina Rymbu, Pavel Arsenev, and Elena Kostyleva; artisic texts by Chto Delat, Natalia Pershina (Gluklya), Nikolay Oleynikov, and Anastasia Vepreva; and philosophical texts by Oxana Timofeeva, Aleksandr Pogrebnyak, and Andrey Platonov (with Robert Chandler).

Kevin Platt is a Professor and Chair of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory and Acting Chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania. He works on Russian poetry, representations of Russian history, Russian historiography, and history and memory in Russia. He is the author of History in a Grotesque Key: Russian Literature and the Idea of Revolution (Stanford, 1997; Russian edition 2006), and the co-editor (with David Brandenberger) of Epic Revisionism: Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda (Wisconsin UP, 2006).  He also edited and contributed translations to Modernist Archaist: Selected Poems by Osip Mandelstam (Whale and Star, 2008). His new book Terror and Greatness: Ivan and Peter as Russian Myths is forthcoming from Cornell UP imminently.

Kevin Repp received a Ph.D. in History and Humanities at Stanford University in 995, after which he taught modern European intellectual history as Assistant, later Associate Professor at Yale, in which capacity he published widely on critiques of modernity, progressive movements, art, politics, and urban history in Germany before the First World War. Curator of Modern European Books & Manuscripts at Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library since 2005, his more recent work focuses on intersections of the transnational avant-garde and protest culture in postwar Europe. He has built strong collections and numerous exhibitions on the topic and currently leads the Postwar Culture Working Group at Yale.

John Roberts is Professor of Art and Aesthetics at the University of Wolverhampton, UK, and is the author of a number of books including: The Art of Interruption: Realism, Photography and the Everyday (Manchester University Press: 1998), The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and De-Skilling in Art After the Readymade (Verso 2007), The Necessity of Errors (Verso 2011), Photography and Its Violations (Columbia University Press, 2014) and Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde (Verso, forthcoming 2015). He has also contributed to Radical Philosophy, Historical Materialism, New Left Review, New Literary History, Third Text, Philosophy of Photography, Oxford Art Journal, Chto Delat, Manifesta, Journal of Modern Craft.

Kristin Romberg is Assistant Professor of Art History at the School of Art+Design, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is currently on leave as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, where she is completing a book manuscript about the Russian constructivist Aleksei Gan.

Marci Shore is associate professor of history at Yale University. She is the translator of Michał Głowiński’s The Black Seasons and the author of Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968 and The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe. Currently she is at work on a short book project titled “‘It was My Choice’: Reflections on the Revolution in Ukraine,” and a longer book project titled “Phenomenological Encounters: Scenes from Central Europe.” Her recent essays include “Surreal Love in Prague” (TLS); “Out of the Desert: A Heidegger for Poland” (TLS); “Rescuing the Yiddish Ukraine (New York Review of Books); “Rachelka’s Tablecloth: Poles and Jews, Intimacy and Fragility ‘on the Periphery of the Holocaust,’” (Tr@nsit Online); “Can We See Ideas? On Evocation, Experience, and Empathy” (Modern European Intellectual History); and “Entscheidung am Majdan: Eine Phänomenologie der Ukrainischen Revolution” (Lettre International).

Oxana Timofeeva  is a senior lecturer on contemporary philosophy at the European University in St. Petersburg, a senior research fellow at the Institute of philosophy of Russian Academy of Science (Moscow), a member of the artistic collective “Chto Delat?” (“What is to be done?”), a member of the editorial board of the journal “Stasis”, and the author of books History of Animals: An Essay on Negativity, Immanence, and Freedom (Maastricht, 2009), and Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille (Moscow, 2009). She was also an editor of the New Literary Observer magazine (2005-2012), a researcher at the Theory department at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht (2010-2011), and a fellow of Alexander von Humboldt foundation at Humboldt University in Berlin (2013-2014).

Aleksander Skidan was born in Leningrad in 1965. He is a poet, critic, essayist and translator. Skidan attended The Free University (1989–1992), while working as a stoker in the boiler house (1985–2002). His poetry collections include Delirium (1993), In the Re-Reading (1998), Red Shifting (2005) and most recently Dissolution (2010). He is also the author of three books of essays, Critical Mass (1995), The Resistance to/of Poetry (2001), Sum of Poetics (2013) and Theses Toward Politicization of Art (2014). He has translated contemporary American poetry and fiction into Russiаn, as well as theoretical works of Paul de Man, J. Hillis Miller, Jean-Luc Nancy, Paolo Virno, Gerald Raunig. In 1998 he received the Turgenev Award for short prose. He was winner of Andrey Bely Prize in poetry for the collection Red Shifting (2006) and the Most (“Bridge”) Award for the best critical text on poetry (2006). In 2008 his book Red Shifting was published in USA by Ugly Duckling Presse. He is a member of Chto Delat’? working group and a co-editor of the New Literary Observer magazine. He lives in Saint Petersburg.

Roman Utkin is a doctoral candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale. His dissertation, Russian Berlin: Emigre Culture and Interwar Modernism, interrogates the relationship between the Soviet avant-garde and Russophone modernist culture in exile. His research interests include contemporary Russian poetry, queer diasporas, and ethnic difference in a transnational world.

Masha (Mariya) Vlasova is a Russian born artist who lives and works in New Haven. She received her BFA at the Cooper Union School of Art. She is the recipient of a Robert Breer Film and Video Award, an IIE Fulbright grant in filmmaking (Kyrgyz Republic), a CASI Foreign Research Fellowship, an ACANSRS Film Grant and COJECO BluePrint Fellowship. Masha Vlasova’s photographs and videos have recently been exhibited at La MaMa La Galleria, Leeds College of Art, UK, Hadas Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and Art Space in New Haven, CT. She is currently an MFA candidate in the Department of Sculpture at Yale University.

Matthew Whitley is a writer and artist, living in New York City.  His work is concerned with the virulence of the political image, and the relationship between staging and enacting militancy.  He has appeared in various journals and publications including Vanitas, Gigantic Sequins, The New Museum’s New City Reader, 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, and Letters: Nihilist Communist Journal.  His first book of poems, Pinocchio Gone Limp, was released in 2013, concurrent with the group show ALL THE BEST PEOPLE at the artists’ space 1:1.  He founded and currently co-edits the imprint Cicada Press.

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