History of Art


PPV #11: The Perils of Perversion in the Age of Populism

04 November 2019, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

Perverting the Power Vertical: Politics and Aesthetics in the Global East (PPV)

A PPV Reading Week Reading Group (PPV ReWeReGo) with Keti Chukhrov

Event Information

Open to



Maria Mileeva


Masaryk Room
16 Taviton St

Is it actually subversive to be perverted? Or do liberal democracies and capitalist institutions fully subsume perversion into their dominant ideologies? What form does perversion play in the politics and aesthetics of post-socialist authoritarianism, and in the alt-right populist authoritarianism of the late 2010s?

 In 2013, Keti Chukhrov wrote: 

 "We know how often criticism has been prohibited in post-Soviet countries. But at the same time, these cases of prohibition do not mean that the authority is against perversion or subversion, but rather that the authority itself must remain the principal source of such perverse acts. The Russian conceptual writer Vladimir Sorokin has shown well in his writings how the drive for perversion manifests itself in the behavior of an authoritarian and sovereign power. In this case, perversity and transgression have nothing to do with freedom, even if the stance remains quite different from the post-Fordist Western treatment of the role of subversion."

 In this reading group, we will re-visit Keti's short text from six years ago, written in the wake of Pussy Riot's arrest and Putin's return to the Presidency; but at a time when the global normcore neoliberal center felt confident that it was holding its ground. What has happened during the intervening half-decade, as the forces of alt-right populism have swept to power throughout the world? How has power become perverted, and should we respond by politicizing perversion?

 Essential Reading: Keti Chukhrov, "Epistemological Gaps between the Former Soviet East and the 'Democratic' West". E-Flux #41, January 2013.


 1pm: Gathering, lunch

1:30pm: Introduction by Keti Chukhrov

2pm-3pm Discussion and consumption 

About the Speaker

Keti Chukhrov