The launch event marking the Latvian translation of books “Art Power” and “The Communist Postscript” written by the philosopher and cultural critic Boris Groys will take place on Friday 22nd May at 6pm in the new building of the Art Academy of Latvia. Both books have been published by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art as part of their “Translations of Essential Essays on Aesthetics, Visual Art and Culture Theory" series. A discussion “The power of art and politics. The dialogue of ideologies and criticism” organised in partnership with the contemporary literature and philosophy magazine “Punctum” will complement the event.
Boris Groys (b.1947) is an internationally acclaimed publicist, philosopher, art critic, theoretician and expert on late-Soviet postmodernism, Russian avant-garde art and literature. He is one of the major driving forces behind critical thought worldwide, focusing on subjects that examine artwork and its legitimacy in public space, emphasising the influence new mediums of the 21st century impose on the world of art and our understanding of it. Boris Groys has published several books that are highly regarded within international circles of art and culture theory.
The essay collections “Art Power” and “The Communist Postscript” examine various aspects of the issues of contemporary art and the role of a museum in the modern art world, focusing in particular on the situation of art in the post-Soviet space and debating the role of art and the comprehension of culture within the society. “Art Power” consists of essays that have been written over various periods in time, their themes reference the pluralism of modern and contemporary art, and the role and development of art criticism. In these essays Boris Groys covers subjects such as the current art market, the dialogue between contemporary art and museums, the role of curators and the stance of critics, the relationship between cinema and art, and the place of video art within a museum etc.
“The Communist Postscript” is a provocative collection of essays about the interrelationship between communism, philosophy and language. These texts examine communism – our comprehension of its definition and application within social, as well as political context, based on judgements rooted in the Soviet philosophy and the doctrine of communism. Boris Groys argues that since 1989 the world can be thought of as a post-communistic space, also applying this term to the territories outside of the former Soviet Union.
The debate “The power of art and politics. The dialogue of ideologies and criticism” hosted by the translator of both books Ilva Skulte, political philosopher Juris Rozenvalds and philosophers Ainārs Kamoliņš and Normunds Kozlovs will be held during the launch event. It will be chaired by the art historian Ieva Astahovska. The participants will examine a number of questions – how does the political and ideological context of art function in the conditions of capitalism, communism and post-communism? Can the current discourse of left ideas provide an alternative model to the capitalistic system, and what role could the ideas of Soviet philosophy that Boris Groys has analysed in a more radical and provocative way play in it? If present time, according to one of the main arguments put forward by Groys, is characterised by an increasing production of images, then how can the current system of art continue to create and direct certain artistic values?
The scientific editor of both translations is Leo Skulte and literary editors – Ingmāra Balode and Ieva Lejasmeijere. The publications have been funded by the State Culture Capital Foundation, The Goethe-Institut, The Federal Foreign Office of Germany and Arctic Paper. Both books will be available to purchase from the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (7th floor, Alberta Street 13) as well as from mainstream bookstores. At the launch event the books will be available for a special price of 6 Euros.
The work on the LCCA’s translation series began in 2003 with the publication of Walter Benjamin’s essay collection “Illuminations” in June 2005. It received positive reviews from the critics and was nominated for Diena’s (the largest Latvian daily newspaper) Annual Culture Award. ”Grenzgänge der Ästhetik” by Wolfgang Welsch was published in February 2006 and “Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography” by Roland Barthes in December 2006. The latter received vast amounts of public interest and in 2007 was nominated for Diena’s Annual Culture Award. 2007 saw the publication of the translation of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s “L’Œil et l’esprit” (Eye and Mind), whereas 2008 – “The Postmodern Condition. A Report on Knowledge “ by Jean-François Lyotard. The most recent books published as part of the series are Susan Sontag’s “On Photography”, Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s “Dialektik der Aufklärung” (Dialectic of Enlightenment) and Nicolas Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics”.