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Russian filmmaker explores school of thought from home country

Russian artist Anton Vidokle spoke at the Blaffer Art Museum about his film trilogy, “Immortality for All.” | Cristobella Durrette/The Cougar

The lights dim and a woman seated on a bridge fills the screen, ushering in the debut of the fourth installment of the once film trilogy “Immortality for All” by Russian filmmaker Anton Vidokle at a recent talk at the Blaffer Art Museum.

The rough cut of Vidokle’s latest film continues his exploration of Russian Cosmism, a utopian philosophy that advocates for the possibility of human immortality and the resurrection of the dead.

The teachings of cosmism founder Nikolai Federov, a Russian librarian and teacher, serve as the dialogue over the course of the four films. The first three films feature dialogue spoken in Russian, while the latest installment is spoken in Japanese.

The latest installment of the film takes place in Japan, while the other three take place in locations around Siberia and Kazakhstan. All of these locations are significant to the development and spread of the ideas of cosmism, Vidokle said.

This change of scenery was undertaken in an effort to help shed cosmism’s Russian label and convey its nature as a universal philosophy, Vidokle said.

“For me, it’s very interesting to explore more international manifestations of [cosmism],” Vidokle said. “Japan is definitely one of them.”

After initially learning about the concepts of cosmism a decade ago, Vidokle explained that he wanted to disseminate the idea in a new way and bring it back to public attention. To achieve this, he chose film as his medium.

“The cinema of film creates a new church that combines many different experiences into one entity,” Vidokle said. “It combines all branches of art, from images and words to text and sound, to produce a strong experience.” 

The experience and artistic practice of Vidokle’s films are something that 2014 alumna Cindy Pena, has been following since her undergraduate career.  

“I think it’s really important to revisit a philosophy that advocates for more care and more interrelations between species and nature,” Pena said. “An interrelated, interconnected thing where everything feeds off each other.”

Mirroring this interrelation, Vidokle’s four films are connected by the ideals of cosmism, expanding from the basic concepts of cosmist thought to specific instances of its relevancy, according to his artist statement.

He plans to continue filming and exploring these ideas in the future.

“More films, as many as I can make,” Vidokle said. “I want to shoot one in the United States. That’s the next challenge.”

Until those films are released, the first three installments of Immortality for All are exhibiting at the Blaffer Art Museum through August 11, 2018.

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