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PRINT March 2008

BORIS GROYS

ANTICIPATING THE FUTURE was a declared objective of many modern art movements. But few of them were endowed with the divinatory powers necessary to achieve this goal. Sots art, conversely, never tried to be futuristic—and yet contemporary Russia looks a lot like a Sots art installation. Orthodox priests consecrate a new long-range missile (actually an upgraded Soviet model, decorated with a red star) on national television; Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed body lies exposed not far from Armani and Gucci boutiques. The visual world of the Soviet past is amalgamated with that of Western consumer brands, just as it was in the work produced two or three decades ago by the Russian artists grouped under the aegis of Sots.

The movement’s name itself equates Communist propaganda art with the branded goods circulating in Western markets: It is a combination of “socialist realism,” or “sotsrealism,” and

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