Theory — 1, Mar 2, 2024

The Khardzhiev Foundation and the Stedelijk Museum are hosting the Fifth International Khardzhiev Conference on 1 and 2 March 2024. This conference is dedicated to Cosmism.

Museum ticket + € 3     
Mar 1, 10 am until 6 pm
Mar 2, 10 am until 4 pm
Main language

The Khardzhiev Foundation

The Khardzhiev Foundation is named after Nikolai Khardzhiev (1903, Kakhovka, Ukraine), a writer, historian of art and literature and art collector, who died in Amsterdam in 1996. The objective of the foundation is to preserve, research and provide access to Khardzhiev’s heritage consisting of digitized manuscripts and a visual art collection, which is now managed by the Stedelijk Museum and was formed in the avant-garde period of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The Khardzhiev Foundation organizes a conference every two years. 

Conference program

The conference program examines the resonance of Cosmist ideas in our present times of war and global environmental and healthcare crises, exploring Cosmism through the lenses of feminism, post-humanism and cultural imperialism critique. Cosmist ideas of transhumanism, the conceptualization of infinity and immortality and the exploration of space, were initiated by the religious thinker Nikolai Fedorov (1829-1903). He was the great inspiration for Vasily Chekrygin (1897-1922), an artist who died young and whose work is widely represented in Nikolai Khardzhiev's collection and archive. 


The conference coincides with the one-room exhibition ‘Cosmism - Images from a Future Gathering’ curated by Robbie Schweiger in collaboration with Frank van Lamoen, which will be on show at the Stedelijk Museum from 13 January - 3 March 2024. Borrowing a quote from Chekrygin as its title, the exhibition features works from the Khardzhiev collection, ranging from Chekrygin’s drawings for the Cathedral of the Resurrecting Museum to works by renowned contemporaries Malevich, Matyushin and Goncharova, presented from a cosmic spiritual perspective. The exhibition at the same time shows how the Stedelijk Museum has widened its collection scope to include recent acquisitions by Ukrainian artist Fedir Tetianych from the 1970s and 1980s, and Kazakh artists Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev, whose installation Ruler of the Stars (2009) is the opening piece of the exhibition. 

 The conference offers a varied program of lectures, interviews and films. The artist Anton Vidokle, who has squarely put Cosmism on the map of the visual arts, will be launching his book Citizens of the Cosmos (London: Sternberg Press, 2024). 

Friday, 1 March Conference moderator: Eva Peek 

Doors open
Welcome by Stedelijk Museum director Rein Wolfs and Khardzhiev Foundation board member Sjeng Scheijen Introduction to conference and day program by Robbie Schweiger 
Screening of Immortality and Resurrection for All! (2017), a film by Anton Vidokle 
 Keynote lecture by Michael Hagemeister, "Mortals of all lands, unite!" – Nikolai Fedorov's project of universal salvation and the avant-garde after the October Revolution
12:15 – 13:30
Lunch break 
Daniel Muzyczuk, curator at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, in conversation with Anton Vidokle on the exhibition Citizens of the Cosmos at Muzeum Sztuki  (7 October 2022 – 12 March  2023) Book launch of Anton Vidokle, Citizens of the Cosmos, edited by Miguel Amado. London, Sternberg Press, 2024 
Two Aspects of Utopia: a critical look at Cosmism by Kateryna Lysovenko 
Screening of Revisiting Solaris (2007) by Lithuanian artist Deimantas Narkevičius   Adaptation of the final chapter of Stanisław Lem's novel Solaris (1961), which was omitted by Andrei Tarkovsky in his 1972 film. 
Visit to the exhibition Cosmism: Images from a Future Gathering  Book signing session by Anton Vidokle followed by drinks 

Saturday, 2 March  Conference moderator Eva Peek 

Doors open 
Introduction to conference and day program by Robbie Schweiger 
Screening of 18,000 Worlds (2022) by Saodat Ismailova 
Keynote lecture by Yuliya Sorokina, Astral Nomads: “The future will never come – we’ll just grow old” 
12:15 – 13:30
Lunch break 
What goes up must come down, by Yuliia Elyas 
  Screening of The Neverending Eye by Fripulya (Fedir Tetianych) (1994) by Ukrainian filmmaker Viktor Vasylenko   
  Unresurrected. Against Necropolitics of Immortality  Natalia Sielewicz, curator at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art,in conversation with Nikita Kadan 
Concluding remarks 

Extra Info about the speakers.

Michael Hagemeister: Michael Hagemeister studied History, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Philosophy at the universities of Basel and Marburg. His PhD thesis Nikolaj Fedorov. Studien zu Leben, Werk und Wirkung came out in 1989. He has published widely on Russian philosophy and intellectual history, utopian and apocalyptic thought, Russian anti-Semitism and (neo-)Fascism, and especially on the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.

Nikolai Fedorov: In his Philosophy of the Common Task, Nikolai Fedorov outlined a bold project. He wanted to overcome death, restore all past generations and reach out into space. Such ideas met with a lively response in avant-garde circles after the Russian Revolution, but no one was so deeply influenced by Fedorov as the artist Vasily Chekrygin. 

Anton Vidokle and Daniel Muzyczuk: Citizens of the Cosmos examines the artist Anton Vidokle’s films and the Cosmist philosophy underpinning them. It features essays and conversations with Vidokle by seminal contemporary theorists, curators, and artists: Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Keti Chukhrov, Liam Gillick, Boris Groys, Daniel Muzyczuk, Miguel Amado and Georgia Perkins, Elizabeth Povinelli, and Raqs Media Collective. This is the first book to survey Vidokle’s Cosmism-related filmic output, begun in 2014, and includes full scripts from the films. 

Kateryna Lysovenko: Kateryna Lysovenko received a classical art education at the Odesa Art College, followed by the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv. Recently she took part in the exhibition Kaleidoscope of (Hi)stories. Art from Ukraine. Museum De Fundatie, Zwolle 2023 My presentation offers a critical look at Cosmism, as well as directions in my artistic practice relating to resurrection, utopia and ideal. In Cosmism, resurrection is the goal of saving the world; for me, the image or idea of resurrection is an act of disagreement. Cosmism is utopian, I will talk about two aspects of utopia – the danger of the totality of utopia, but also the critical potential of utopia. Cosmism also talks a lot about the ideal future person; we will consider the repressiveness of this ideal, as well as its danger for every living and non-ideal body. 

Saodat Ismailova: In 18,000 Worlds, Saodat Ismailova explores the invisible foundations of Central Asia. Moving from personal to collective memory, she connects the myths from the region to its recent history and addresses its spiritual heritage for healing. In 2022, the artist and filmmaker received the Eye Art & Film Prize for her oeuvre, which devotes attention to the complex, layered culture of her motherland Uzbekistan. 

Yuliya Sorokina: Yuliya Sorokina, PhD, is an independent curator, writer and associate professor at the Temirbek Zhurgenov Kazakh National Academy of Arts, Almaty, Kazakhstan, currently a scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Shortly before his death in 2002, Kazakh artist Sergei Maslov began writing a science fiction novel called Astral Nomads, which was dedicated to the life of contemporary Kazakh artists aboard a space station in the future. I decided to pay homage to Maslov’s memory by creating a digital archival resource of the same name. I was prompted to do this by the fact that many artists in the Central Asian region, just like yesterday, today, and even in future, lack the space and opportunity to preserve their heritage for future generations. Our artists' practices often draw on the legacy of the first avant-garde, as its authors and works were exiled to Central Asian cities due to the Red Terror, or were evacuated there during World War II, which had a great influence on  the region's art. How do these practices enter into a dialogue with the ideas of the avant-garde and how are they transformed here and now? 

Yuliia Elyas: Yuliia Elyas is a visual artist and writer originally from Ukraine who is currently a Fellow for Situated Practice at BAK, Utrecht. In her presentation, Yuliia explores the process of knowledge production within the framework of Cosmism. She draws from philosophical concepts and transitions to societal and personal experiences, reflecting on her upbringing in Dnipro, Ukraine, a city shaped by its post-secret, and post-rocket industry history. In an era where space conquest is reconsidered in the context of colonial expansion, she critically revisits narratives surrounding Cosmism. 

Fripulya (Fedir Tetianych): According to Tetyanich, Fripulya was ‘a code emitted by humankind as radio waves or light beams, containing all data about itself. Fripulya can be used to recreate humankind anywhere in space.’

Nikita (Mykyta) Kadan: Nikita (Mykyta) Kadan graduated from the National Academy of Fine Art (Kyiv) in 2007, where he studied at the department of monumental painting under professor Mykola Storozhenko. Recently he took part in the exhibition Kaleidoscope of (Hi)stories. Art from Ukraine. Museum De Fundatie, Zwolle 2023 In the face of  the death cult of Russian imperialism and the resurrection of its geopolitical expansion ‘Русский мир’ (Russian world), the West rests in a self-satisfying illusion of undisturbed safety. At the same time, catastrophe continues to be outsourced to its so-called peripheries. Over a century ago, Cosmism imagined universal immortality and eternal life for humankind, but today its provisions sound more idealistic than ever. As the bodies are abducted and deported, as they are disposed of in mass graves and mobile crematoriums, the question arises: who defines the materialist conditions of the dead and the undead in times of carnage and total annihilation? Who controls the march of those to be immortalized and what could the resurrection site be? Before approaching the cosmo-idealism of the new galactics, it seems we need to first look deep into the underworld of forgetfulness. In their talk, Nikita Kadan and Natalia Sielewicz will discuss these issues, referring to two resurrecting projects by Kadan: the unrealized reconstruction of Biotechnosphere in Popasna (Luhansk region) – an autonomous unit for shelter, energy storage and transportation originally designed by Ukrainian visionary artist Fedir Tetyanich for Popasna in 1985 (and now completely obliterated following the full-scale invasion). Secondly, they will refer to The Chairman of the Globe, an unrealized monument to Velimir Khlebnikov by one of the founders of the Ukrainian avant-garde, Vasyl Yermilov for the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.