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Boris Groys

Boris Groys is Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University. He is the author of many books, including Ilya Kabakov: The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment (2006) and Art Power (2008), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

Moscow Conceptualism

In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of "unofficial" artists in Moscow—artists not recognized by the state, not covered by state-controlled media, and cut off from wider audiences—created artworks that gave artistic form to a certain historical moment: the experience of Soviet socialism. The Moscow conceptualists not only reflected and analyzed by artistic means a spectacle of Soviet life but also preserved its memory for a future that turned out to be different from the officially predicted one.

Art has its own power in the world, and is as much a force in the power play of global politics today as it once was in the arena of cold war politics. Art, argues the distinguished theoretician Boris Groys, is hardly a powerless commodity subject to the art market’s fiats of inclusion and exclusion. In Art Power, Groys examines modern and contemporary art according to its ideological function. Art, Groys writes, is produced and brought before the public in two ways—as a commodity and as a tool of political propaganda.

The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment

The fictitious hero of this 1984 installation is a lonely dreamer who develops an impossible project: to fly alone in cosmic space. But this dream is also an individual appropriation of a collective Soviet project and the official Soviet propaganda connected to it. Having built a makeshift slingshot, the hero apparently flies through the ceiling of his shabby room and vanishes into space. The miserable room and the primitive slingshot suggest the reality behind the Soviet utopia, in which where cosmic vision and the political project of the Communist revolution are seen as indissoluble.