Proposal for a Museum: Nikolai Fedorov, Philosophy of the Common Goal (19th cen.)
Via Boris Groys, “The Artist as Curator of Bad Art,” in Exposition Imaginaire: The Art of Exhibiting in the Eighties, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, ‘s-Gravenhage, 1989:
Russian philosopher of the late 19th century Nikolai Fedorov created a so-called “philosophy of the common goal,” which was to organize the entire technical potential of humanity in order to realize, on a scientific basis, the artificial resurrection of every person that ever lived on earth. The first stage on the road to realizing this “common goal” — its grandiose prospects influenced many leading Russian scientists, poets, artists, et cetera — was to be the establishment of a single museum, where everything that testified to the life of everyone who ever lived would be exhibited and in the future could be used for his resurrection. In some sense [Ilya] Kabakov’s installations can be seen as a simulacrum of such a museum. But, in the reality of irreversible history, this museum still awaits its curator.
Via Nikolai Berdyaev, “The Religion of Common Resurrection: The Philosophy of the Common Task by N. F. Federov,” an unpublished manuscript from 1915, as translated in 2002 by Fr. S. Janos:
In burial there is already the principle of resuscitation. Man is a being, which buries — here is an essential definition of man. With this is connected Fedorov’s love for museums, as seeds of resuscitation, and his dislike for exhibitions, as a betrayal of the fathers and self-exalting. Just as with the church-temples, museums ought to be cemetery-like. “Only a cemetery can be transformed into a complete museum, rather than museum cabinets of only the rare, such as with present-day museums. Only the cemetery-like museums are memorials for all the people without exception, rather than of merely some of the great; only cemetery-like museums make all an object of knowledge and for all to be known, if they be not separated from the schools.”
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