Metamorphoses as Value. Eisenstein's »Capital« Project

Lecture at Ilia State University, Tbilisi

2018 | 04. October | 19:00

Ilia State University,
building A, auditorium A 101,
32 Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue
0179 Tbilisi, Georgia

Speaker – Elena Vogman (Berlin)
Organizer – Soso Dumbadze (Cologne)

Organized by Sa.Ga. with support from the Goethe-Institut Georgia and the Institute for Social and Cultural Studies of Ilia State University

Eisenstein’s adaptation of Karl Marx’s Capital is a phantom in a double sense: although never realized, it has nonetheless haunted the imagination of many filmmakers, historians, and writers to the present day. Furthermore, its first public ‘materialization’ – a ten-page fragment of the director’s work diaries – was marked by what remained absent: Eisenstein’s images and working materials. Together with its English translation in 1974, this fragment has continued to stoke excitement in artistic and academic circles, most recently with Alexander Kluge’s magnum opus News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx – Eisenstein – Capital.

Far from pretending to represent this unseen material in its totality, this essay aims to conjure the phantom of Capital once again – only this time on the basis of the full scope of Capital’s archival body. This »visual instruction in the dialectical method«, as Eisenstein himself called it, comprises of over 500 pages of drawings, press clippings, expression diagrams, plans for articles, negatives from October, sketches and theoretical reflections, extensive quotations from different sources, and various other materials.

This talk explores the internal formal necessity underlying Eisenstein’s choices in Capital, arguing that its complexity as well as its epistemic and aesthetic efficacy reside precisely within the state of its material: the heterogeneous themes and disparate fragments, its non-linear, provisory, and non-articulated flow. It is in this »diffuse« language – associated with the stream of consciousness of Joyce's Ulysses – that Eisenstein saw the strongest critical and affective potential for the future cinema.

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