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Tag Archives: Boris Groys






Philosophy is traditionally understood as the search for universal truths, and philosophers are supposed to transmit those truths beyond the limits of their own culture. But, today, we have become sceptical about the ability of an individual philosopher to engage in ‘universal thinking’, so philosophy seems to capitulate in the face of cultural relativism.

In INTRODUCTION TO ANTIPHILOSOPHY, BORIS GROYS argues that modern ‘antiphilosophy’ does not pursue the universality of thought as its goal but proposes in its place the universality of life, material forces, social practices, passions, and experiences – angst, vitality, ecstasy, the gift, revolution, laughter or ‘profane illumination’ – and he analyses this shift from thought to life and action in the work of thinkers from Kierkegaard to Derrida, from Nietzsche to Benjamin.

Ranging across the history of modern thought, INTRODUCTION TO ANTIPHILOSOPHY endeavours to liberate philosophy from the stereotypes that hinder its development.



‘Groys has claimed a defining role in the reception of the Russian avant-garde … The Communist Postscript presents Groys’s attempt to advocate the communist idea against its own historic assumptions.’ – RADICAL PHILOSOPHY

 ‘A timely intervention in present debates about the legacy of communism [and] a provocative addition to Groys’ brilliantly paradoxical body of work.’ – ART REVIEW

Praise for ART POWER:

“The range of topics canvassed in Art Power is impressive. … All of these subjects have been comprehensively treated elsewhere, but rarely with Groys’ penetrating eye for the unexpected upshot of such developments.” – FRIEZE

“This magisterial overview situates contemporary art – its aesthetic strategies, institutions and drives -within the deeper context of the Modernist revolution, urbanism, new technologies, and the post communist era. Groys’ combines revelatory analysis with philosophical questions that go to the heart of cultural production today.” – IWONA BLAZWICK, Director, WHITECHAPEL GALLERY

‘Persuasive … provocative … By probing unacknowledged, repressed, or otherwise unexamined relationships that hover in the background of art-world conversation, Art Power recombines categories, reconfigures assumptions, and, in the end, reimagines what art writing can be.’ – BOOKFORUM


‘This is not just a book but an event … The Total Art of Stalinism is an intellectual landmark’ – ART BULLETIN

‘One of the most astute commentators on the art scene today’ –  NEW LEFT REVIEW


BORIS GROYS is Professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Center for Art and Media Technology inKarlsruhe, and since 2005, the Global Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, NYU. He has published numerous books including THE TOTAL ART OF STALINISM, ILYA KABAKOV: THE MAN WHO FLEW INTO SPACE FROM HIS APARTMENT, ART POWER, and THE COMMUNIST POSTSCRIPT.


ISBN: 9781844677566 / $26.95 / £16.99 / Hardback / 272 pages


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University of Amsterdam, May 10-13th, 2012

The aim of this conference is twofold: on the one hand, to analyse the role of the aesthetic in the writings of Marx and, on the other, to examine works of art and literature which are based on, or have been directly inspired by, Marx’s writings. At the core of this conference, then, is an attempt to think the immanent relation between the aesthetic and emancipatory conceptions of politics.

Previous attempts to make sense of Marx and Engels in terms of aesthetics have either been Marxist in a very broad sense – writing as productive force, aesthetic autonomy as critique of the commodity form, the critique of aesthetic ideologies etc. – or Marxological in a naïve sense i.e., merely assembling in one volume the stray comments on art and literature that pepper Marx’s and Engels’ writings. The problem with the first attempt is that it simply assumes that there is a prominent lacuna with respect to the aesthetic in Marx himself and that, therefore, Marxian grammar and vocabulary were in need of radical transformation. The failure of the second approach (although these attempts call for reconsideration in their own right, since they are now all about 40 years old) was that it restricted the understanding of “aesthetics” to statements dealing explicitly with art and literature.

Recent debates concerning the aesthetic (to be distinguished from aesthetics as a discipline), however, have allowed for a different understanding of the field. The aesthetic crosses disciplinary boundaries and cannot be restricted to specific subjects. The aesthetic is a form of thought in which a whole host of complex and interrelated issues are at stake: the orders of mind and matter, the disruptive dynamics of sense perception, expression and of metaphor, the logics of innovation and of “the event,” the indeterminate character of semiotic systems and so on. Aesthetics cannot, therefore, be restricted to art alone and does not even necessarily coincide with it. In other words, the aesthetic is in a constant state of “migration.” Authors like Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe and Rancière, among others, have pointed out the way in which all radical attempts to theorize the political are profoundly dependent on figures of the aesthetic. The “aesthetico-political” has become a name for all aesthetic dynamics that cross (and confound) the hegemonic orders of reason and the established channels of perception.

Against this backdrop, the entire history of radical political thought must be reconsidered. Socio-philosophical and strategically political claims, which were never originally considered as aesthetic, e.g. Sohn-Rethel’s notion that “Communism is the overcoming of the separation between intellectual and manual labor,” now appear in a new light. 
The texts of Marx himself have not yet been sufficiently interpreted and reconstructed in these terms. And yet in these writings innumerable figures of the aesthetic are, so to speak, at work. From notions of an “aesthetics of production” to the “poetry of the future”, from the radical modernism of bourgeois development to the very idea of “free association,” from references to Shakespeare and Dante in the original texts as well as in important translations, to the idea that bourgeois politics is nothing but a theatrical stage, the aesthetic has an undeniably prominent place in Marx’s thought.

Conversely, Marx’s work has also become extremely rich “raw material” for artistic production. From theatre works on Capital to the Chinese attempt to stage this text as an opera, from Sergej Eisenstein’s and Alexander Kluge’s attempts to make a film of Capital to Rainer Ganahl’s reading seminars, from the work of Zachary Formwalt and Milena Bonilla to that of Phil Collins: these artists are producing Marx as an “aesthetic event.”

In short, in Marx the aesthetic and the political are immanently related: this conference aims to explore how.

Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to the following:

– Aesthetic Production in the Early Writings

– Marx and Engels as Historians of Literature

– Modernism in the Manifesto

– Aesthetico-Political Associationism

– Aesthetic Form and Commodity Form

– Marx’s Method and the “Aesthetic Regime of Art”

– Revolutionary Shakespeare

– Monsters and Ghosts

– Eisenstein, Kluge and the Cinematography of Capital

– Staging Capital (Opera, Theatre)

– Brecht’s Communist Manifesto

– Images of Marx in Painting and Sculpture

– The Beauty of Communism

Confirmed Speakers

Keynote: Boris Groys (NYU)

Keynote: Terrell Carver (University of Bristol)

Keynote: Jochen Hörisch (Universität Mannheim)

Keynote: Kristin Ross (NYU)

Ruth Sonderegger (Akademe der Bildenden Künste, Wien)

Sven Lütticken (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)

Kati Röttger (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Josef Früchtl (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Helmar Schramm (Freie Universität, Berlin)

Clint Burnham (Simon Fraser University,Vancouver)

Gary Teeple (Simon Fraser University,Vancouver)

Confirmed Artists:

Rainer Ganahl

Phil Collins

Zachary Formwalt

Milena Bonilla


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“The idea of communism is rising from its grave once again—but what does it effectively amount to?…A beautifully written work which is a must for everyone interested in what’s left of the contemporary Left”  – Slavoj Žižek


One of the rising stars of contemporary critical theory, Bruno Bosteels discusses the new currents of thought generated by figures such as Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière and Slavoj Žižek, who are spearheading the revival of interest in communism.

Bosteels examines this resurgence of communist thought through the prism of “speculative leftism”—an incapacity to move beyond lofty abstractions and thoroughly rethink the categories of masses, classes and state.

Debating those questions with writers including Roberto Esposito and Alberto Moreiras, Bosteels also provides a vital account of the work of the Bolivian Vice President and thinker Alvaro García Linera.

This book is the latest title in Verso’s POCKET COMMUNISM series. The series publishes new strands of left theory and has featured work by Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Boris Groys.


BRUNO BOSTEELS, Professor of Romance Studies atCornellUniversity, is the author of THE ACTUALITY OF COMMUNISM, BADIOU AND POLITICS and, forthcoming from Verso in 2012, MARX AND FREUD IN LATIN AMERICA. He is the editor of the journal, DIACRITICS.


ISBN: 978-1-84467-695-8 / $24.95 / £12.99 / $31.00CAN / Hardback


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Slavoj Žižek and Costas Douzinas – THE IDEA OF COMMUNISM:


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Boris Groys


Boris Groys talks at the ICA

Wednesday 21st July, 6.45pm

Institute of Contemporary Art
12 Carlton House Terrace

Tickets £12

With the collapse of neoliberalism, the idea of communism has made a surprise return to the table.  Thinkers such as Slavoj Zizek, Toni Negri and Alain Badiou, have argued that communism, a society based on equality, is now proved to be the only alternative to the chaos of capitalism. Building on this discussion, the renowned art critic and thinker Boris Groys argues that the strength of the communist vision comes from the fact that it represents the subordination of the economy to politics.

For more information on the event or to buy tickets go to:

Or call the ICA box office on +44 (0)20 7930 3647



Boris Groys’s lecture at the TATE MODERN

Thursday 22nd July, 6.30-8pm
Tate Modern
Starr Auditorium
53 Bankside

Tickets £10

In this special lecture Boris Groys, will respond to the FRANCIS ALYS’ exhibition at Tate Modern with the provocative and counter-intuitive insight that has made him one of the most important thinkers and art critics today.

For more information on the event or to buy tickets go to:

Or call the TATE box office on +44 (0)20 7887 8888


Boris Groys is Professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe, and since 2005, the Global Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, NYU. He has published numerous books including Art Power and The Total Art of Stalinism.


Since Plato, philosophers have dreamed of establishing a rational state rules through the power of language. In this radical and disturbing account of Soviet philosophy, Boris Groys argues that communism shares that dream and is best understood as an attempt to replace financial with linguistic bonds as the cement uniting society. The transformative power of language, the medium of equality, is the key to any new communist revolution.


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