Mikhail Iampolski

yampolkiyphotoBorn in Moscow in 1949. I Worked at the Moscow Institute of Film Studies, where I got my habilitation for a study of intertextuality in Film. In 1990 I started working at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of science. In 1991 I was invited as a Getty scholar to the Getty Institute in Los Angeles. Starting from 1992 until now I teach at New York university. I published 16 books (one coauthored) and more than 350 articles. A winner of Andrey Bely Prize.

Gnosis in Images.

The essay Gnosis in images analyses a big tapestry Alephbet by Grisha Bruskin. According to the artist, some of his works are dealing with the external social world and correspond to the relation I-It (in Martin Buber’s terms). Alephbet belongs to the area of I-Thou relation, i. e. of a direct confrontation with the invisible God. The essay approaches the Alephbet as a manifestation of pictorial Gnosticism, postulating the division of the universe into two spheres: the external and godforsaken and the invisible world of divine revelation and presence. In Bruskin’s art the transition from the I-It to the I-Thou is related to a kind of “local eschatology” of modernity (the artist is constantly returning to the apocalyptic end of the soviet universe and of the modern world in general). Jewish mysticism and Gnosticism were a revolt against history that had no place for Jews. A mystic escaped catastrophic history through a visionary experience. And this escape is based on a specific use of images. Walter Benjamin noticed: “The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again”. The flashing image of an other world opens an experience of a separation from the “big history of winners”. Such is a gesture of a personal salvation of a gnostic. The essay focuses on the way Bruskin uses Jewish visionary tradition for the reshaping of modern conceptual art.

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