unitednationsplaza Mexico DF


Anselm Franke - From Animism to Animation - Moving Image in Modern Culture

This seminar focussed on Eisenstein’s relation to "animism", animation, and his obsession with images of death. Based on these, we invited speculations on the relation between 'life' and 'death' as historical dimensions of primitivism and the quest for a mode of 'visual thought'; and on mummification and animation in mass culture and the theory of revolutions at large.

If artistic agency can be understood as intervention into collective imaginaries, is it possible to identify the desires that define the relation of power and autonomy in the realm of representations and popular imaginings historically? For many seminal modern artists from Europe and the United States, Mexico has variously operated as a screen on which these desires have been projected, but also become historically contested and readable.

This seminar departed from the case of Eisenstein, who, in 1931, coming from Hollywood, has spent many months filming in Mexico. While Eisenstein was not able to edit his own film material and complete the film, he produced hundreds of pages of notes and drawings in Mexico, thus making his time there one of the most productive of his life.

In Eisenstein' s universe, the experience of Mexico lead to far-reaching revisions in his theory of the moving image in modern culture and the revolution, such as his thinking about fetishism, and the European model of the psyche as interior and individualised. More then a portrait of Mexican culture, Eisenstein's 'Mexico' opens a unique perspective on the Russian revolution, the agency of artists therein, emerging mass culture globally, and particularly Eisenstein's own theory of montage.

The seminar opened with a lecture by renowned scholar and Eisenstein biographer Oksana Bulgakowa, who gave an overview of Eisenstein's relation to Mexico, followed by a discussion. The second evening featured a presentation by Anselm Franke, drawing on material and research for a recently opened exhibition on "Mimetisme" and a future exhibition project including the drawings of Sergei Eisenstein.


Anselm Franke and Oksana Bulgakowa

previous / next


back to archive