In 1922, under the slogan ‘immortalism and interplanetarism’ the Moscow biocosmists called for nothing less than the immediate annulment of the temporal and spatial restrictions of human life. Their demands followed the traditions of the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov, who saw the overcoming of mortality, alongside expansion into outer space, as the central aim of mankind. He believed all of this to be achievable with the aid of science and technology. Under the supervision of the state, which would eventually become a museum, nature would be reshaped into a manmade artwork. In the early Soviet era, theorists, scientists and activists seized upon Fedorov's ideas. The cosmists were united by their belief in a rational transformation of the given and seemingly predetermined, which then culminates in the elimination of death and the conquest of outer space.
The present development of artificial intelligence and biotechnology is once again fueling projects that deal with the abolition of the temporal restrictions of human life. Enterprises of this kind, which address the conquering of human limitations via technological means, form the core of current transhumanist thinking. It is therefore of no surprise that Calico–the California Life Company, a subsidiary of Alphabet Incorporated (previously Google Inc.)–has set itself the goal of extending human life. However, although the cosmists saw their most urgent demand of overcoming death as a ‘collective task’ for all mankind, many current transhumanist promises are developed under the premise of self-optimization.
The exhibition Immortalism brings together works by different contemporary artists, all of whom present different perspectives relating to visions, ideologies and technological means of defeating death. The historical background of the exhibition is formed by the utopian program of eliminating human mortality as proposed by Nikolai Fedorov and early Soviet-era Russian cosmism.