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PPV #11: The Perils of Perversion

4.11.2019, The Masaryk Room, SSEES, UCL, 1-3pm.

Perverse pyraMMMids of wild capitalism under attack. Moscow 2016.

"The Perils of Perversion in The Age of Populism"

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

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, 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". First published in E-Flux #41, January 2013.

Extended version re-published in Ana Janevska (et al.) 2018 (eds.), Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe: A Critical Anthology. New York: MoMA Primary Documents. Download here.

Due to space constraints, attendance in PPV will be limited to 20 people. Please register by emailing

1pm: Gathering, lunch

1:30pm: Introduction by Keti Chukhrov

2pm-3pm Discussion and consumption