Immortality for All: a film trilogy on Russian Cosmism

by Anton Vidokle

Anton Vidokle, film still from "This is Cosmos", 2014, Courtesy of the artist

This Is Cosmos

2014, 28:10 min, Russian and with English subtitles

Shot in Siberia and Kazakhstan, as well as Moscow and Archangelsk regions, the first film in the trilogy on Russian Cosmism comprises a collage of ideas from the movement’s diverse protagonists, including founding philosopher Nikolai Fedorov. Fedorov, among others, believed that death was a mistake—a flaw in the overall design of the human, “because the energy of cosmos is indestructible, because true religion is a cult of ancestors, because true social equality is immortality for all.” For the Russian cosmists, the definition of cosmos was not limited to outer space: rather, they set out to create “cosmos,” or harmonious and eternal life, on Earth. The ultimate goal, as illuminated in the short film, was “to construct a new reality, free of hunger, disease, violence, death, need, inequality—like communism.”

Anton Vidokle, film still from "The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun" (2015), Courtesy the artist

The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun

2015, 33:36 min, Russian with English subtitles

The second part of the trilogy looks at the poetic dimension of solar cosmology of Soviet biophysicist, Alexander Chizhevsky. Shot in Kazakhstan, where Chizhevsky was imprisoned and later exiled, the film introduces Сhizhevsky’s research into the impact of solar emissions on human sociology, psychology, politics and economics in the form of wars, revolutions, epidemics and other upheavals. The film aligns the life of post-soviet rural residents and the futurological projects of Russian cosmism to emphasize that the goal of the early Soviet breakthroughs aimed at the conquest of outer space was not so much technical acceleration, but the common cause of humankind in their struggle against limitations of earthly life.

Anton Vidokle, film still from Immortality and Resurrection for All, 2017, Courtesy the artist

Immortality and Resurrection for All!

2017, 34:17 min, Russian with English subtitles

The trilogy’s last part is a meditation on a museum as the site of resurrection — a central idea for many Cosmist thinkers, scientists and avant-garde artists. Filmed at the State Tretiyakov Gallery, Moscow Zoological Museum, The Lenin Library and The Museum of Revolution, the film looks at museological and archival techniques of collection, restoration and conservation as a means of the material restoration of life, following an essay penned by Nikolai Fedorov on this subject in 1880s. The film follows a cast comprised of present-day followers of Fedorov, several actors, artists and a Pharaoh Hound that playfully enact a resurrection of a mummy, a close examination of Malevich’ Black Square, Rodchenko’s spacial constructions, taxidermied animals, artifacts of the Russian Revolution, skeletons, mannequins in tableau vivant-like scenes, in order to create a contemporary visualization for the poetry implicit in Fedorov’s writings.