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November 28, 2012

CFP Conference: “Illusions Killed By Life”: Afterlives of (Soviet) Constructivism, Princeton

Deadline: January 20, 2013

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PROGRAM IN RUSSIAN AND EURASIAN STUDIES
Princeton Conjunction 2013: An Annual Interdisciplinary Conference
May 10-12, 2013

In 1923, the influential Russian writer Maxim Gorky complained in one of his letters: “In Russia, formalists, futurists, and certain people called constructivists perform all kinds of deformity. It must be stopped.” Stopped it was not. In the early 1920s, Russian Constructivism emerged as a key emblem of Soviet modernity that responded to the call to “materially shape the flux” of social life, as Alexei Gan put it. It did this through a series of crucial theoretical, aesthetic, and technological interventions which broke with the artistic languages of the past and, simultaneously, offered new tools for organizing a new life. Penetrating all spheres of the everyday – from housing, tableware and clothing to public space, mass performances and journalism – Constructivism fundamentally changed not only the vocabulary of expressive means but also the very understanding of the material environment and its social potentialities.

In the last two decades, this initial and most productive period of Constructivism has captured the interest of scholars again and become a privileged site of analytic and historical investment. The goal of this conference, however, is to shift scholarly attention to a less radical but no less complex stage in this movement’s history: the afterlife of Constructivism. In 1922, Boris Arvatov, a leading art critic of the time, described the Constructivist approach as “illusions killed by life,” seeing in the sober rationality of this movement a viable alternative to the illusionist and mimetic arts of the past. It is precisely this ability of Constructivism to turn dead illusions into a source of inspiration that this conference plans to investigate.

Abstract (300 words) and a short CV (2-3 pages) should be sent to Serguei Oushakine at oushakin@princeton.edu by January 20, 2013. Those selected to give presentations at the conference will be contacted in early February 2013. Final papers will be due no later than April 15, and they will be posted on the conference website.

We might be able to offer a number of travel subsidies for graduate students and participants from the overseas.

For more information, visit http://afterlivesofconstructivism.wordpress.com/.

Posted by jychai at November 28, 2012 11:58 AM

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