Lecture by Andrey Velikanov: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic, Escape Attempt. // Heterotopia. Machines of desire. Banality of evil


From 25 March 2018




Garage Education Center


Andrey Velikanov will interpret selected novels by the Strugatsky brothers in the context of philosophical ideas of the second half of the 20th century.

The 1960s were very prolific in terms of new words and images. One of the key philosophical concepts that emerged during that era was “heterotopia”, whereby a place expands its purely spatial dimensions and transforms into a temporal criterion, becoming a unique medium for archiving and preserving history, memory, objects, and events. This idea referenced the earlier notion of the chronotope introduced by Mikhail Bakhtin and alluded directly or covertly to some other texts of the same period. In 1961 Stanisław Lem published the novel Solaris, while his 1969 critical article approached culture as a totality of various game codes. In 1972 the Strugatsky brothers published their Roadside Picnic based around Lem’s idea that making contact with aliens is impossible. To what extent, however, the Soviet sci-fi authors were influenced by the notion of a specific space with alternative history, picture of the world and ways of seeing a local culture—Andrey Velikanov will discuss this and other issues in his next lecture.

“Heterotopias are disturbing, probably because they secretly undermine language, because they make it impossible to name this and that, because they shatter or tangle common names, because they destroy ‘syntax’ in advance, and not only the syntax with which we construct sentences but also that less apparent syntax which causes words and things (next to and also opposite one another) to 'hold together'.” 

(Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, 1966)


Andrey Velikanov is a philosopher, art theorist, and artist. His publications on art and cultural theory include Am I a Trembling Simulacrum, or Do I Have the Right? (NLO, 2007). He has taught at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian State University for the Humanities, UNIC Institute, Wordshop Communications Academy, Moscow 1905 Art Academy, MediaArtLab Open School, Center of Avant-Garde at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, and Free Workshops Art School, and regularly gives talks and takes part in discussions at various venues. He is also a recipient of several media art awards and prizes including Ostranenie (Germany), DADANET (Russia), Art on the Net (Japan), TrashArt (Russia), Southwest Interactive Festival (U.S.A.), and Split (Croatia).


Free admission