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Tyranny of Positive Thinking

26 October

Tyranny of Positive Thinking


The second discussion Tyranny of Positive Thinking in the cycle "All ages are submissive" in the educational program of  VII Moscow International Biennale For Young Art  will take place at 7 PM (4 PM GMT) on October 26. The discussion will take place online. The original language will be English with simultaneous interpretation into Russian.

Discussion will be available by the link in Vkontakte and after registration by the link in ZOOM.

Andrey Shental, the curator: 

"Neologism “happycracy” defines a society that is governed by a positive mindset and imperative to enjoy. Popular psychology teaches us to defeat negative thoughts, while positive education — to suppress negative thinking as incompatible with development of entrepreneurial skills. Positive vibes — is a marketable commodity of service economy, while smiling worker signifies client-oriented approach and commercial success. The very condition of happyness is produced today by the entire industry: from star coaches, training and online-maraphons to manuals and motivational quotations. Those who are unable to develop emotional intellect could resort to psychotherapy and serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Nevertheless, despite such an emanation of happiness, the mere statistics testifies to a progressive increase in depression and number of suicides even in prosperous countries. Compared to Kulturindustrie, media and social networks, art remains one of the last “free ports” emancipated from the tyranny of everything positive. If negativity was the key category of modernism (for instance, distorting recognizable patterns), then the last thing that contemporary art could ever be accused of is the emotional serving of its public. As “master of negativity” Theodor Adorno once claimed, art’s positivity contains in its opposite, as if art “art wanted to prevent the catastrophe by conjuring up its image”.


Boris Klyushnikov (born in 1989, Russia) - is a teacher of modern art theory. Worked at the National Centre of Contemporary Art in the department of interdisciplinary programs (2013-2015) and taught a course in the theory of contemporary art at the Department of Cinema and Contemporary Art of the Russian State Humanitarian University (2015-2020). Lecturer and organizer of programs in theory and history of art at the Baza Institute. Lecturer at Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia. Since 2015 he has been teaching at the British Higher School of Art and Design. 

Co-founder of the Laboratory of Art Criticism at the Winzavod CCA (with the Baza Institute). Since 2020 a teacher at the Moscow School of New Literature. Organizer of science fiction reading groups The Word For World Is Forest. Research interests include philosophy of contemporary art, video essayism and the intersection of art and science fiction.

Eva Illouz (born in 1961, Israel) - is a Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the EHESS institute in Paris. Her research focuses on the sociology of capitalism, the sociology of emotions, the sociology of gender and the sociology of culture. Her work explores several significant and thought-provoking themes, such as the influence of capitalism on emotions, the commodification of romance and the meaning of freedom, choice, and individualism in the modern world. Several of her major works are: Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (University of California press, 1997); Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism (Polity Press, 2007); Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation (Polity Press, 2012); Unloving: A Sociology of Negative Relations (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Aaron Schuster (born in 1974, США) - is a philosopher and writer who lives in Amsterdam. He is a senior research adviser at the VAC Foundation (Moscow), and was previously a fellow at the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University, and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Trouble with Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis (MIT Press, 2016). Next year he has two forthcoming books: How to Research Like a Dog: Kafka's New Science (MIT Press), and Spasm: Theater and the Philosophy of Tickling (Cabinet Books).


Natalia Protasenya (born in 1988, Russia) - curator, editor, translator, master of political philosophy. Since 2011, he has been working in institutions of contemporary art (MAMM, Polytechnic Museum, Manezh). Since 2013 he has been working as an independent curator. From 2014 to 2015 she was the co-founder and co-curator of the red square independent exhibition space at Electrozavod. Since 2017 he has been teaching critical cultural studies at the British Higher School of Art and Design. In 2016, she graduated from the Shaninka Moscow School of Arts and Science and the University of Manchester in political philosophy and social theory. Author, editor and translator of texts on contemporary art and culture. He is currently the curator of the V-A-C Foundation.


Andrey Shental (born in 1988, Russia) is an art critic and curator. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art Criticism from Moscow State University and a Master’s in Contemporary Critical Theory from the Center for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University. He was a senior contemporary art editor at Theory and Practice from 2013 to 2015 and a contributing editor, writer and translator for Moscow Art Magazine from 2015 to 2017. He has been a foreign correspondent for Flash Art International since 2016, and has contributed reviews, interviews, and essays to various publications and essay collections, including Artchronika,, Art Territory, Idea, Mute, Art Leaks, Little Joe, Flash Art и Frieze. Curatorial projects include: Now Showing: Austerity Measures (co-curator, London, Lisbon, Riga, Athens, Porto, Bucharest, 2013); programs Aesthetics and its Discontents, New Cosmologies, DIAMAT (all co-curated at Winzavod, Moscow; 2016, 2017–18, 2018–2019 respectively); Arseny Zhilyaev's solo exhibition The Return (Winzavod, Moscow, 2017–18) and Turbulence at Cosmoscow International Fair (co-curator, Moscow, 2020).