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Christina Kiaer

The Frances Hooper Professor in the Arts and Humanities; Department Chair

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Curriculum Vitae

Christina Kiaer (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) teaches Global modern art and visual culture in the twentieth-century, specializing in the Soviet Union and the art of the Soviet empire and international socialism, with special interests in collective art practices, the aesthetics of anti-racism, the lived experience of socialism and revolution, women, everyday life, consumption, and affect. Her book Collective Body: Aleksandr Deineka at the Limit of Socialist Realism is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in early 2024. She is currently completing the project “Aesthetics of Anti-racism: Black Americans in Soviet Visual Culture,” from which she has published several articles, most recently “Resisting Amerikanizm through Racial Solidarity: Black Skin, 1931,” in Detroit-Moscow-Detroit: Soviet-American Architectural Exchanges, 1917-1945 (MIT Press, 2023). Her first book Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism (MIT Press, 2005) was awarded an Honorable Mention by the Wayne S. Vucinich Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. That year she also published an interdisciplinary volume of essays, Everyday Life in Early Soviet Russia: Taking the Revolution Inside (Indiana University Press; co-edited with Eric Naiman).

Kiaer serves on the Steering Committee of the Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (REEES) Research Program in Weinberg College. In opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, she co-organized the international symposium “The Collective Body Dismembered: Histories of Art, Identities and the War in Ukraine” at the National Gallery of Denmark on May 31, 2022 (see Artists, curators and scholars from Ukraine and other countries discussed the collective, anti-imperialist and anti-racist body imagined by the visual culture of international Soviet socialism, and the definitive ruin of this collective body by the current imperialist war, which is being waged in the now cynical language of “brotherly nations.”

Kiaer appeared in the film Rouge! L’Art au Pays des Soviets (2019), which was broadcast on French television and screened during the run of the exhibition Rouge! Art et utopie au pays des Soviets at the Grand Palais, Par­­­is in Spring 2019. She was co-curator, with Robert Bird and Zachary Cahill, of Revolution Every Day at the Smart Museum, University of Chicago, and an editor and author of the catalog, Revolution Every Day: A Calendar (Milan: Mousse Publishing, with the Smart Museum of Art, 2017). She was also a consultant, member of the catalog collective and catalog essay writer for the exhibition Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test at the Art Institute of Chicago. Previously, she served as special advisor to the 2011 exhibition Aleksandr Deineka: An Avant-Garde for the Proletariat at the Fundación Juan March in Madrid, and consultant curator on the 2009 exhibition Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism at the Tate Modern Museum, London.

For the 2021-22 academic year, she was awarded a Novo Nordisk Foundation Visiting Professorship at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. She has held postdoctoral research grants from the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Northwestern University; the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the American Philosophical Society; the Social Science Research Council; and the J. Paul Getty Foundation, among others.

Program Area: Global Modern and Contemporary

Regional Specialization: Europe, the Soviet empire and transnational socialism

Regional Interests: Twentieth-century art and visual culture, specializing in the Soviet empire, transnational socialism, collective art practices, the visual culture of anti-racism, the politics of realism and the avant-garde, and feminist theory and art.

Selected Publications

With Joy Gleason Carew, “Introduction” to the “Critical Discussion Forum on Race and Bias,” co-edited with Carew and Harriet Murav, in Slavic Review vol. 80, no. 2 (Summer 2021): 203-206.

 “Inventing an Aesthetics of Anti-Racism: African Americans in Early Soviet Visual Culture,” in The Wayland Rudd Collection: Exploring Racial Imaginaries in Soviet Visual Culture, ed. Evgeniy Fiks, 94-113 (New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021).

 “A Comintern Aesthetics of Anti-racism in the Animated Short Film Blek end uait,” in Comintern Aesthetics, eds. Amelia Glaser and Steven S. Lee, 352-388 (University of Toronto Press, 2020).

“Mariia Bri-Bein: Woman Worker, Fight for a Clean Canteen,” in Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, ed. Jodi Hauptmann and Adrian Sudhalter, 122-126 (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2020).

Anti-racism in Early Soviet Visual Culture,” in “Black October: The Russian Revolution and the African Diaspora,” forum on Black Perspectives (online journal of the African American Intellectual History Society), October 31, 2017.

Revolution Every Day: A Calendar, co-edited with Robert Bird and Zachary Cahill (Milan: Mousse Publishing, with the Smart Museum of Art, 2017)

African-Americans in Soviet Socialist Realism: The Case of Aleksandr Deineka,” The Russian Review 75:3 (July 2016): 402–33.

Christina Kiaer, "Lyrical Socialist Realism," October 147 (Winter 2014): 56-77.

Christina Kiaer, "Collective Body: Christina Kiaer on the Art of Aleksandr Deineka," Artforum 51.3 (November 2012): 243-249.

Christina Kiaer, Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005, reprint 2008).