Agitation for Freedom: Revolution and its Avant-Garde, Dec. 1

Conference at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University

Friday, December 1, 2017
Free and Open to the Public

In conjunction with Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy, curator Masha Chlenova and Maria Ratanova, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harriman Institute and Lecturer at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, have organized a conference in celebration of the centennial of the Russian Revolution. It will include two panels and a round table entitled “Why Celebrate the Revolution Today?”

Exhibiting artists Yevgeniy Fiks and Anton Ginzburg will participate in the program, which will feature visiting scholars of Russian modernism and Russian avant-garde art: Kate Baldwin (Northwestern University), Dan Healey (University of Oxford), Samuel Johnson (Syracuse University), Julia Mickenberg (University of Texas at Austin), Kristin Romberg (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), with keynote speakers Maria Gough (Harvard University) and Christina Kiaer (Northwestern University). 

 The conference will address little-discussed issues of individual freedoms and civil liberties brought about by the October Revolution and celebrated by the artists of the Russian avant-garde: the emancipation of women, advocacy of sexual and gay liberation, internationalism, racial equality, and rights of ethnic minorities. These gains in individual freedoms, rolled back in the Soviet Russia by the mid-1930s are on the agenda again today. The issues of women's rights, gay rights, internationalism, and racial equality are central in the modern world, and especially critical in Putin's Russia and Trump's America. This conference will explore this radically transformative aspect of the Russian Revolution and the way it was reflected in the artistic project of the Russian avant-garde, and discuss how it resonates with the anti-authoritarian tendencies and Civil Rights movements in today's world.