Of Tricksters and Zombies: Re-imagining Outsideness in Contemporary Russian Activist Art

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    This chapter enquires into the aesthetics of resilience developed by the younger generation of contemporary Russian artists and particularly its recall of the survival techniques that were used by artists during the 1970s and 1980s. It explores transformations of the late Soviet practices of outsideness and examines the conspicuous presence of trickster and zombie metaphors in contemporary activist art, considering them as intersecting tropes of imagining and invoking resilience. As examples, the chapter juxtaposes the artistic recalling of two moments of radical upheaval that frame the Soviet period, the October Revolution (in the Palace Square. 100 Years After video of the Chto Delat collective) and the perestroika (in Kirill Savchenkov’s installation The Horizon Community Memorial Centre at the Garage Museum), and identifies similarities between their imaginations of resistance against (post-)Soviet and globalized forms of biopolitical control. This reading shows that while traversing different paths-of performing critical accommodation and radical rebellion- the trickster and zombie tropes in these artworks coincide in their search for “the common” or the intersubjectively shared and in their elaboration of collectivities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationArt and Activism in the Age of Systemic Crisis
    Subtitle of host publicationAesthetic Resilience
    EditorsEliza Steinbock, Bram Ieven, Marijke de Valck
    Place of PublicationNew York
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429269189
    ISBN (Print)9780367219840
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2020


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