Ordinary Marxism vs. Globalized Fascism. A Lecture by David Riff


From 13 April 2016




Garage Auditorium
Ordinary Marxism vs. Globalized Fascism. A Lecture by David RiffOrdinary Marxism vs. Globalized Fascism. A Lecture by David Riff


The Garage Field Research Project If our soup can could speak Mikhail Lifshitz and the Soviet Sixties continues with a lecture by David Riff on the anti-fascist aspect of Lifshitz’s scholarship and its possible relevance today.

Beginning with his 1933 introduction to The Philosophy of Art of Karl Marx, Mikhail Lifshitz explained his theoretical efforts as a contribution to the struggle against 20th century fascism. This was more than just an abstract, official frame, as Lifshitz shows in The Crisis of Ugliness (1968), where modernism’s often-unintended complicity to “the revolution from the right” plays a major role. Lifshitz would also go on to produce two further analyses of fascist art in Italy and Germany, published in the 1973 anthology Iskusstvo i sovremenniy mir (Art and the Modern World). Lifshitz’s diary notes, posthumously published in Chto Takoe Klassika? (What Is Classic?, 2004) reveal just how central the struggle with fascism and totalitarianism was to his work. Not only did Lifshitz feel himself culpable for the rise of the personality cult, which he analyzed extensively, but he also continued to be preoccupied with the rise of new totalitarianisms and fundamentalisms clad in the colorful garb of consumerism, social demagogy, and religion, even predicting the rise of radical Islam from the ruins of modernist Marxism. What does this anti-fascist undercurrent in Lifshitz’s writing mean today? David Riff’s lecture follows Lifshitz’s argumentation, illustrating it with visual examples from the history of art, and connecting it to a contemporary situation of globalized fascism that far exceeds Lifshitz’s worst predictions.


David Riff is a writer, translator, artist, and curator. He was born in 1975 in London. Riff is a member of the art collective Chto delat (What is to be done?), whose newspaper he co-edited from 2003 to 2008. He also co-edited the arts section of the internet portal openspace.ru from 2007 to 2009. Riff has written widely on contemporary art in Russia and extensively translated important texts from Russian to English. His most recent project is a forthcoming translation of the work of Soviet aesthetic philosopher Mikhail Lifshitz. Riff has also produced and shown work as an artist, focusing on collaborative projects such as the Learning Film Group, The Karl Marx School of the English Language, and the Lifshitz Institute. Recent curatorial projects include: Monday Begins on Saturday, Bergen Assembly 2013, Bergen, Norway (with Ekaterina Degot); the discussion platform and exhibition Auditorium Moscow, Moscow, Russia (2011, with Ekaterina Degot and Joanna Mytkowska); the international exhibition The Potosí Principle (2010–2011, curatorial correspondent); and the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial, Yekaterinburg, Russia (2010, with Cosmin Costinaş and Ekaterina Degot). Riff is a member of the Academy of the Arts of the World, Cologne, where he is currently the Head of Publications. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

how to take part

Admission is free

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