Cosmist Reading Group
2nd Sep - 2nd Nov 2023
Cosmist Reading Group
The Cosmist Reading Group explores publications archived at the Institute of the Cosmos online and housed in the Reading Room of the Institute of the Cosmos at SIRIUS. The programme is organised in conjunction with the exhibition Anton Vidokle and the Institute of the Cosmos, produced and presented by SIRIUS, and convened by John Thompson and Catherine Harty in dialogue with Miguel Amado, director of SIRIUS.
Today, philosopher Nikolai Federov’s (1829–1903) ideas regarding what he called a ‘common task’ – the overcoming of death, the resurrection of all who have ever lived, and setting up new habitations for humankind in outer space – might seem outlandish. Or bizarre irrelevancies. Or historical curiosities from an age of hubris. But in the nineteenth century, Federov’s radical proposals influenced cosmonauts, novelists, artists, and philosophers across Europe. Their scientific optimism and techno-utopian extravagance could not contrast more with our times, where the very idea of ‘a common task’ aided by science feels largely unimaginable.
The Cosmist Reading Group considers translations of primary essays by the early Cosmist and Cosmist-inspired authors, from Nikolai Fedorov to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky to Alexander Bogdanov; writings by adjacent authors influenced by Cosmism or expressing resonant notions; and contemporary commentaries and analyses by authors and artists such as Boris Groys, Hito Steyerl, Anton Vidokle, and Arseny Zhilyaev.
The sessions focus on the interaction of Cosmist texts with several disciplines and fields of action, from philosophy to politics to art. They facilitate a greater understanding of Cosmist ideas, the context of their emergence, their subsequent, sometimes underground, influence, and what they can tell us about today’s social imaginary.
Assigned readings are approximately 25 pages per session, with optional secondary readings of a similar length. Participants read and discuss aspects of the main text during each session.
Sessions run from 2 September to 2 November 2023, alternating in person at the Reading Room of the Institute of the Cosmos at SIRIUS and online.
2, 16, 30 September
14, 28 October
7, 21 September
5, 19 October
Participation is free but tickets are essential for registration purposes: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/cosmist-reading-group-tickets-672926490247
John Thompson writes on art and philosophy. He is researching for a doctorate at University College Cork on the topic of conceptual art and materialism. He is also a political activist and researcher on the history of Marxism.
Catherine Harty is an artist whose practice spans video, performance, and drawing. Her work engages with models of subjectivity within capitalism, including the precarious labourer and the figure of the entrepreneur. She has previously co-ordinated reading groups into art theory and philosophy at The Guesthouse Project in Cork. She is a member of the Cork Artist Collective.