PRINT February 2018


Arseny Zhilyaev, Intergalactic Mobile Fedorov Museum-Library, Berlin (detail), 2017, fiberboard, vinyl print, chairs, books, ionization lamps. Installation view, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Photo: Laura Fiorio.

IF ONLY HE COULD WAKE UP, Nikolai Fedorov would be very surprised. He has gone from being merely an unknown writer; the illegitimate son of a Russian prince; a man drawn back again and again to the stark landscape of the steppes; a minor librarian with a magisterial command of Moscow’s greatest library, the Rumyantsev Museum; a nineteenth-century Russian about whom any number of novels might have been written—he has gone from a life lived in relative obscurity to a place in history. Today, he, Fedorov, is being celebrated as the father of cosmism.

Cosmism is on the march. Lately it has been transmitting waves of fresh, though somewhat oblique, signals from the wreckage of Soviet modernity. Since it was never a truly coherent movement, in some sense these fragments ring true to the nature of the phenomenon. Cosmism will not become a picture. Best to think of this cosmism as a

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