Conference. Agitation for Freedom: Revolution and Its Avant-garde

Friday, December 1, 2017
607B Pulitzer Hall (6th Floor, Columbia Journalism School)

Please join us for 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?”

This event is organized in conjunction with Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy, an exhibition dedicated to the centennial of the Russian Revolution at International Print Center New York (IPCNY), curated by Masha Chlenova. The exhibition runs October 12-December 16, 2017.

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 Union 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.

Agitation for Freedom is preceded by an event at IPCNY on Thursday, November 30th at 6:00 pm, consisting of an exhibition viewing guided by curator Masha Chlenova and a special performance by the artist Yevgeniy Fiks.

The conference program 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), New York-based artists Yevgeniy Fiks and Anton Ginzburg, and keynote speakers Maria Gough (Harvard University) and Christina Kiaer (Northwestern University).

The conference is organized by Maria Ratanova and Masha Chlenova.

Image: Gustav Klucis. By Improving the Qualifications of the Working Woman We Can Help Her Become an Active and Equal Builder of the New Life. Photomontage for Herald of Labor, 1925, #1.