22 November 18 -
24 November 18
WIS – Wissenschaftsetage
Am Kanal 47
Rooms: 4-24a Volmer and 4-24b Sürig
Sergej Eisenstein and the Game of Objects
In the year which marks both the 120th anniversary of Sergej Eisenstein’s birth and the 70th anniversary of his death, the Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies (ZeM) and the DFG research group “Cinepoetics – Poetologien audiovisueller Bilder” are jointly organising a workshop that will take place in Potsdam from the 22th to 24th November 2018.
Eisenstein’s essay “On the Game of Objects” [ИГРА ПРЕДМЕТОВ] (1925) serves as the thematic point of departure for the workshop: In his text, Eisenstein outlines the idea of transferring the task of emotionally arousing the audience from the actor to “inanimate objects” in order to achieve a “play of objects” and in turn a “purely cinematic process”; one which “is not accessible to the form of theatre which does not go beyond the play with objects”. This process is synonymous with the step from an “enthusiasm for objects” for their own sake to the cinematic modelling of the figurative as “attraction material” for the purpose of generating affect. Following Eisenstein’s reflections, the workshop will deal with the function of inanimate objects in his films and determine their significance in Eisenstein’s thinking compared to other theoretical models of the 1920s and 1930s (Balázs, Dulac, Eisenstein, Epstein, Moholy-Nagy, Vertov, etc.).
The workshop has arisen as a result of the project “Eisenstein’s House”, in which Eisenstein’s objects also play a central role: Following Eisenstein’s death, his widow Pera Atasheva rescued the filmmaker’s estate from his apartment before Stalin could confiscate it. By roundabout means, she managed to locate most of her deceased husband’s property in a tiny three-room apartment in central Moscow, where she attempted to reconstruct the original arrangement of the items before they had been removed from their previous location, Eisenstein’s last apartment. Thus the “Eisenstein Cabinet” was created; a home to, among other things, Eisenstein’s library, his manuscripts and writings on films, memorabilia from film shoots, his collection of toy figurines and numerous autographs.
Over the decades, Naum Kleiman has turned the apartment into a centre for research and exchange on Eisenstein. However, the apartment is now to be abandoned following the politically motivated dismantling of the Moscow Film Museum, of which the Eisenstein Cabinet was officially a part. The new museum management plans to transfer the objects from the Cabinet to the new building of the Moscow museum, currently still under construction. The future of the collection remains unclear.
In January 2018, a group of scholars, filmmakers and IT specialists led by Naum Kleiman and Tatiana Brandrup undertook a means to compensate for the impending loss of this lively hub for Eisenstein-related research and artistic reflection by developing an internationally oriented online platform. As had been the case with the Eisenstein Cabinet, Eisenstein’s apartment is going to be reconstructed; this time virtually. The platform shall serve as a tool for research; a means of visualizing the connection between Eisenstein’s artistic and theoretical thoughtpatterns, among other things. A virtual library and media library, blog and online journal will provide access to the current state of the art of Eisenstein-related research. Most of all, however, visitors will be able to experience the world of Sergei Eisenstein through objects from his estate. The project presentation will focus on a series of preliminary narratives from the platform, which revolve around the first International Congress of Independent Film in La Sarraz, Switzerland, in 1929.
Anna Luise Kiss (Film University Babelsberg / ZeM)
Naum Kleiman (Eisenstein Foundation, Moscow)
Thomas Schick (Film University Babelsberg / ZeM)
Michael Wedel (Film University Babelsberg / ZeM / Cinepoetics)