Ecstasy as Method: Eisenstein's Lay Anthropology. Lecture by Elena Vogman



ms1, Więckowskiego 36, Teoria Jedzenia Bistro


23 September 2018, 5:00 p.m.

Event connected with the exhibition Shapeshifting: Eisenstein as Method

“Gentle stroking is a punch in slow-motion; sadism is only a stage in the tempo and intensity of stroking […] devouring remains in love only in the form of a bite and a kiss.” This is how Eisenstein drafts a basis for his new “theory of mimesis” in Mexico, the country where the Soviet director spend over fifteen month, between 1930 and 1932, while filming his unfinished anthropological epos “Que viva Mexico!” Evolving from Aristotele and the materialist theory of cinema, from the ethnography of Levy-Bruhl and the “physiological basis of rime” by Henry Lanz, Eisenstein’s working diaries are marked by an obsessive attempt to formulate a general method of art based on ecstatic experience. “Ex-stasis,” for him, literally meant “standing out of oneself,” “departing from one’s ordinary condition.” Since Mexico, this concept has profoundly marked not only his cinematographic practice but also his expansive theory work (Method, Montage as well as The Non-Indifferent Nature, written between 1934 and 1948).

Drawing on Eisenstein’s writings and his footage from Mexico, parts of which has only recently been discovered in the Moscow archive, the lecture aims to explore “ecstasy as method:” a method allowing the director to expand, or even to exceed, the notion of art itself, leading to a broader, anthropological account based on transference. Referring to Freud’s notion of “lay analysis,” this lecture discusses Eisenstein’s engagement with Mexico, focusing on the way in which he traced survivals of the past in the political present. Freud’s emphasis on “transference” provides the decisive element which transforms the “layness” of this anthropological approach into a practice of decentering the subject’s position.

Elena Vogman is an author, independent curator and postdoctoral fellow in the research project “Rhythm and Projection” at the Institute of General and Comparative Literature at Free University in Berlin. She wrote her dissertation on the concept of Sensuous Thinking in Sergei Eisenstein’s theory project Method. Her first book Sinnliches Denken: Eisensteins exzentrische Methode has been published by diaphanes. She specializes in the history and theory of cinema and media, with a particular emphasis on forms of visual thinking, practices of montage and the relations between literature, ethnology, art and science. Currently, she finishes her next book, Dance of Values: Eisenstein’s Capital Project, which is forthcoming in the fall of this year. Based on a study of unpublished archival materials, she reconstructs Eisenstein’s theory of value, analyzing how Marx’s Critique of Political Economy appears in the visual form of montage. Together with Marie Rebecchi and Till Gathmann she curated the exhibition “Sergei Eisenstein: The Anthropology of Rhythm” in 2017 at Nomas Foundation in Rome. A book with the same title, written together with Marie Rebecchi and published by Nero, accompanied the exhibition, exploring the rhythm as an instrument of visual anthropology. In April 2018, the trio curated the exhibition “Eccentric Values after Eisenstein” at Espace Diaphanes in Berlin.

The lecture is free thanks to the financial support of Patron of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź Starak Family Foundation.

Lecture will be conducted in English.

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