March 23, 2009 - Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerpen - Sergei Eisenstein: The Mexican Drawings
March 23, 2009

Sergei Eisenstein: The Mexican Drawings

Sergei M. Eisenstein
Drawing № 4 of series “Duncan’s death”
June 16, 1931
27,5 х 21,1 cm
(Russian State Archives of Literature and Art)

Sergei Eisenstein
The Mexican Drawings

3 April – 21 June 2009

Opening Thursday, 2 April 2009 / at 19.00

Curators: Oksana Bulgakowa and Anselm Franke
Exhibition architecture: Guy Châtel

In collaboration with MuHKA
Tulpstraat 79,
2060 Antwerp,

Sergei Eisenstein (1898 – 1948), the director of Battleship Potemkin (1927) and Ivan the Terrible (1941), is widely acknowledged as a seminal modern artist. His cinematic work was always closely tied to his writings and theoretical reflections, which draw on a vast range of sources in its attempt to position film historically and politically as the paradigmatic, synthetic art form of Modernity. Eisenstein’s radical concept of montage has become seminal within the theory and practice of the Avant-Garde in the cinematic and cultural history of the 20th century. Other aspects of his work, especially his unfinished scripts, later theoretical projects, and drawings, have remained less known.

Sergei Eisenstein: The Mexican Drawings, organized in collaboration with MuHKA Antwerp, brings together an extensive selection of drawings culled from the Russian State Archives of Literature and Art in Moscow (RGALI), that Eisentein made during his visit to Mexico in 1931/32, including works never before presented in public. In Mexico, Eisenstein developed his drawings in a parallel manner to the Surrealists’ Ecriture Automatique, producing a large number of variations on recurring motifs based on Mexico’s hybrid imagery, which Eisenstein treated like a historical tableau of junctures and simultaneities. In a single dynamic line, Eisenstein explores transformation of forms, obscenity, death and violence.

Though forming an autonomous aspect of Eisenstein’s work, the drawings are also an integral part of his larger intellectual project, a study of the historical relationship between rationality, sensual thought and images. Eisenstein would attempt to publish the results of his research in a book entitled Method, on which he worked until the end of his life, and which, like many of his other projects, remained uncompleted. Eisenstein conceived of this book as being three-dimensional, taking a spherical rather than a linear form. The 1700 pages of text, drawings and notes, written in Russian, English, French, German and Spanish, are being edited by Oksana Bulgakowa and published in an untranslated four-volume version by Potemkin Press (Berlin/San Francisco, 2009). In approximating Eisenstein’s non-linear conception of Method, excerpts from the material and partial translations will be presented in a web platform established on the occasion of the exhibition.

The exhibition will further include short excerpts from the unfinished ¡Que viva México!, the film Eisenstein was producing in Mexico, and which he would tragically be excluded from editing. He had considered shooting a loosely connected series of semi-documentary short stories that would depict Mexican culture in a simultaneity of past and present. Reminiscent of, and yet in crucial aspects surpassing the Modernist fascination with the ‘Archaic’. Mexico presented for Eisenstein a tableau of dialectic imagery that allowed him to re-conceptualize the role of modern art and revolutionary cinema.

At Extra City, the exhibition Sergei Eisenstein: The Mexican Drawings is part of a speculative engagement with modern legacies and their historical perspectivation. The exhibition is conceived as an introduction to the collaborative project Animism, planned to take place in 2010 at MuHKA and Extra City, which addresses the dialectics of subjectification and objectification, conservation and animation through a variety of modern and a-modern aesthetic paradigms.

Lectures by Oksana Bulgakowa in MuHKA_media
03/04 I 15/05 I 19h

‘Eisenstein in Mexico’, film program in MuHKA_media

With the support of the Russian State Archives of Literature and Art and the Ford Foundation, Moscow.

Extra City benefits from the support of: Vlaamse Ministerie van Cultuur, Jeugd en Sport, Stad Antwerpen, ART, Klara, Bureau Bouwtechniek, Mampaey, Jaga, Zumtobel, Levis, Koning Boudewijnstichting, Artbrussels, Pas Par Toe.

Extra City
Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 14.00 – 19.00/ Thursday 14.00 – 20.00
Closed on public holidays. Guided tours for groups and schools, on request.
Press contact: – T +32 3 677 16 55

Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerpen
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