Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Power Vertical #3: Dramaturgia - Exporting Russian Machiavellianism

23 November 2018, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm


A Friday talk by Denis Maksimov

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Masha Mileeva and Michał Murawski


IAS Forum
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

The current outpouring of analyses of Russian internal and foreign politics give rise to a feeling of déjà vu, bringing to mind Cold War-era American Sovietology. Amidst assorted Novichoks, Brexits, Trumps and Bolsonaros, political science seems to be in global methodological trouble as predictions and foresights are consistently being proven wrong to the shock of both the think tanks and the public. Meanwhile in Russia, the key principles of the "dramaturgical" design of political space, introduced in Moscow in the early 2000s, are today floating on the surface sans masque. So what are the politics and aesthetics of Russian Dramaturgia?

Political theorist and curator Denis Maksimov will speak about Russian political ‘greyness’ - an engineered ambience, whose purpose it is to make it impossible to establish trust among actors - and its exportability. His talk will build on Avenir Institute’s transdisciplinary research of political auteurship. A former insider of several political near-Kremlin think tanks, Maksimov will look at the highly ambivalent work and thought of two crucial theorists of Russian political Dramaturgia: the former (2000-2004) head of the Expert Department of the Administration of the Russian President Simon Kordonsky's interdisciplinary analysis of Russian ‘administrative markets'; and the former Deputy Chief of Staff (1999-2011) of the same institution Vladislav Surkov’s interest in theatre and fiction.

Denis Maksimov is a political theorist, praxeologist, independent curator and creative consultant. His transdisciplinary research and design span across the intersections of metaphysics, socio-political history, Ancient Greek and comparative mythography, regimes of power, ideology, visual and rhetoric ideography, aesthetics, critical theory, geopolitics, futures studies, fashion and style. In 2015 he co-founded a think tank and creative studio Avenir Institute with nodes in Brussels, Berlin, London and Athens. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of Sandbox Network.

6pm-8pm. The seminar will be followed by a wine reception, thanks to the generosity of CSCA - the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art at UCL.

Location: The Forum at The Institute for Advanced Studies, adjacent to Common Ground.

South Wing, Wilkins Building
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

No registration necessary, but please confirm your likely or possible attendance by responding to the Facebook invitation; or by sending an email to m.murawski@ucl.ac.uk or m.mileeva@ucl.ac.uk

Power Vertical: Politics and Aesthetics in the Global East

A collaborative, nomadic seminar series launching during the 2018-2019 academic year at UCL.

“I think Putin probably likes Trump from an aesthetic point of view”

Valery Garbuzov
Director of the Institute for US and Canadian Studies
Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 

Do certain modes of politics and economics – and certain parts of the world – come with particular styles and shapes attached to them? Is there an inherent correlation between authoritarianism and monumentality, and between democracy and authoritarianism? Between populism and kitsch, between liberalism and restraint? Between socialism and austerity, capitalism and luxury, patriarchy and verticality?
How are these politics and aesthetics shifted, reinforced, consolidated and gendered? How can our binary assumptions about political-aesthetic elective affinities be contested, queered and resisted – and what can the experiences of the 'Global East' – encompassing Russia, the former Soviet Union, the former socialist world and their transnational entanglements – tell us about these affinities?

Power Vertical is convened by Masha Mileeva (UCL Art History) and Michał Murawski (Gold Zamt) (UCL SSEES). It is a roving, and restless initiative, currently co-hosted by the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art at the UCL Department of Art History, UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, The FRINGE Centre for the Study of Social and Cultural Complexity (UCL SSEES) and the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre (CCRAC).