Boris Groys. Art in the Age of Democracy

John McDonald Moore Memorial Lecture Mon 17 Nov 2008 6.30PM-8.30PM The New School, Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang College Building
55 West 11th Street (enter at 66 West 12th Street), 5th floor
Free admission
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The fourth John McDonald Moore Memorial Lecture is delivered by philosopher Boris Groys who speaks on design and branding, and how nature and God have been replaced by design and conspiracy theories.

According to Groys, every act of aestheticization (or of design, of branding) is always simultaneously a critique of the object of this act of aestheticization because it signals that this object needs an aesthetic supplement to look better than it actually is. Design or branding make a designed object look better—but at the same time they raise a suspicion that this object would look especially ugly and repellent if its designed surface would be accidentally removed. Our contemporary totally designed world is often described as a world of total seduction from which the unpleasant reality has disappeared. But the world of total design is, rather, a world of total suspicion—of latent danger lurking behind the designed surface. Inevitably, we tend to suspect that something terrible is going on behind the designed surface of the world—cynical manipulation, political propaganda, hidden intrigues, invested interests, and simply crimes. We are living today not only in the world of design but also in the era of conspiracy theories. The conspiracy theory is, as Groys proposes, the contemporary form of metaphysics—the only form in which the traditional metaphysics survived after the death of God. Earlier we had nature and God. Today we have design and conspiracy theory.

Groys, Professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany and Global Professor at New York University, is a philosopher, essayist, art critic, curator, media theorist, and an internationally acclaimed expert on late-Soviet postmodern art and literature as well as on the Russian avant-garde. Dr. Groys' writing engages the wildly disparate traditions of French poststructuralism and modern Russian philosophy.

Named after one of the university's most influential art history teachers, this six-part lecture series honors John McDonald Moore's contribution to the university's intellectual life. Moore taught art history and criticism at The New School from 1968 until his death in 1999. Not unlike the speakers in this series—Stephanie Barron, Michael Brenson, Linda Nochlin, and now Boris Groys—Moore brought to his students the vision of an artist who is also a scholar, and his classes were famously popular. His students, family, and friends established this lecture series in 2000.

This program has been made possible, in part, by a generous grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

This event is presented as part of the Vera List Center's 2008-2009 program cycle on "Branding Democracy."