Over the last 25 years we have witnessed a trend: films moved from the black boxes of movie theatres into the white cubes of galleries and museums; filmmakers have become video artists and produced installations while art theoreticians discuss the transformation of their work and its perception by mobile spectators in a new constellation. This experience is not new but has historical precedents. In 1927, a Russian film director shot a film in the biggest museum of his country. This director was Sergei Eisenstein and the film was Oktiabr (October, 1927). How did he manage this task and with what aftereffects? To approach my simple question, I would like to strip away all of the symbolic implications from the sequences filmed at Petersburg’s museums, the Hermitage and the Kunstkamera, and instead try to look at them as an attempt to organize the museums’ objects, the things. Film scholars have interpreted them as non-diegetic inserts,1 but this is not really the case: they all came from the same space. It was Eisenstein who arranged the order of these found objects through montage and established relations between their photographic images, thereby forcing viewers to follow his imaginative path and find meaning in their presentation. In other words, he turned them into objects of an exhibition: an activity that characterises the work of the curator.  His approach demonstrates a connection to the exhibition practice of his time, a practice that was in the process of change. I thus argue that film in general – and Eisenstein’s film in particular – affected this development, which notably includes El Lissitzky’s seminal exhibits: Pressa in Cologne in 1928, Film and Photography (commonly known as FiFo) in Stuttgart in 1929 and Hygiene in Dresden in 1930. In 1928, El Lissitzky involved Eisenstein in the preparation of FiFo, one of the first ever multimedia presentations.2 Eisenstein’s work in October also inspired another filmmaker, Peter Greenaway, to curate the exhibit Eisenstein at the Winter Palace in 1964 using similar objects. Alexander Kluge’s 9.5-hour work Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike, Marx – Eisenstein – Das Kapital, which he released first on DVD in 2008 and then transformed into an installation at the 2015 Venice Biennale can also be seen as a continuation of this practice.3

Eisenstein’s work with objects, which he considered as the main protagonists of his experimental film, opens a wide theoretical perspective. October can be considered as Eisenstein’s contribution to the debates around Sergei Tretyakov’s ideas on the “biography of the thing” within the Left Front, which partially inspired Eisenstein. It can also be compared with Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, which Benjamin started at the end of the 1920s. Benjamin saw the nineteenth-century objects, world exhibitions, glass buildings and department stores as a world of reified dreams, as the physiognomic ruins of capitalism. A range of concepts have emerged that are connected to the social history of things, to the role of epistemic things in the history of science; thingness debates in literary theory; Bruno Latour’s understanding of human and nonhuman interactions, and so on.4 This provoked, on the one hand, a turn in art theory toward anthropology and, on the other hand, a new orientation in ethnography, with ethnographers beginning to understand that they fill museums with enormous collections of things while the meaning of these things is usually transmitted only in action and mostly in secret rituals and therefore remains either conveyed nor understood. This once again changed exhibition practices, leading to Memories of a Nation (British Museum, October 16, 2014-January 25, 2015) presenting 500 years of German history in 200 objects (Charlemagne’s crown, Gutenberg’s Bible, Volkswagen beetles, Auschwitz’s front gate etc.) or Things: Sharing Stories (Weltmuseum, Vienna, October 25, 2017-February 28, 2019).

These debates and developments constitute the frame of my approach to Eisenstein’s film, which is to look at October as a curatorial project. To prove my thesis, I will use Eisenstein’s diaries, which describe his first impressions from the most prominent location of his film, and analyse the objects and their display rules; the mobile gaze of spectators and the dynamisation of space; and the imaginary entity that is created by an exhibit and Eisenstein’s non-narrative film.

The Exhibition Space

No Hollywood-style sets were built for October. Eisenstein was allowed to shoot in all sections of the Winter Palace itself – the representational part, the private rooms and the exhibition building – where he was confronted with a multimedia display that included architecture, statues, painting, icons and everyday objects. Everywhere else the objects of the past had all but disappeared, but the palace looked like the prop room in a film studio, a museum of the past.

On 5 May 1927, Eisenstein wrote:

Why is the Winter Palace so wonderful:
1) Background – the
gold of the Imperial Hall.
2) The
black coats of the bourgeois government.
3) The
grey overcoat of the soldiers and the insurgent proletarian masses. […] Insurgent is something momentary, unconscious, and undifferentiated. And now – we dismember this – in a domestic way.5

Sergei Tretyakov described this strategy as a domestication of things, the transformation of the sublime imperial symbolism into the pathetic petty bourgeois,6 Eisenstein took these terms over and talked about, “The execution of his Majesty, Nicholas II, by everyday things.”7

In 1932 Eisenstein spoke about his experience of filming at the Winter Palace with the students at the Moscow film school. He described episodes and protagonists that were not included in the final cut, like a visitor who came into the Palace with the insurgent masses reflecting his own experience. Eisenstein described this as follows:

The palace was not defended and during the storming some people just came from the street, including a man who was not interested in either the revolution or the counter-revolution, but just came to see how the Tsars lived. He strolls through the rooms. […] There was the personal library of Nicholas II where Kerensky signed a decree restoring the death penalty. I am a bibliophile myself and I studied this library. My visitor also began to examine the albums of pornographic images, of which there were plenty. The collection of things in the bedroom of the Tsarina had a petty bourgeois touch. It had also a huge number of dishes. On the one hand the palace was a big economic entity, like a kulak farm, and on the other we have a museum’s contents and a depository of royal treasures. We shot a dairy farm, because one empress suffered from tuberculosis and so Rastrelli built a farm for her inside the palace. We presented an ironic display of [Fabergé’s] Easter eggs and so on. We destroyed the palace through things.8

For the famous God sequence, Eisenstein shot the objects from the Museum of Ethnography and Anthropology, formerly Peter the Great’s Kunstkamera, the very first museum in Russia. Two years after the release of October, some of these objects were placed in the Museum of the History of Religion that was founded in 1930.9 In his film, Eisenstein largely used the porcelain collections of the Hermitage, the statues, the dishes, the crystal glasses and the mechanical toys.

Figure 1: Tsarina’s Bedroom.

Figure 2: Stills October, 1927.

In his first impressions of the space, written on 13 April 1927, Eisenstein describes how he entered the Winter Palace as a curious museum visitor but instead discovered an immense department store:

The Winter Palace is exotic. […] This is unbelievably rich cinematic material. Muir & Merrilees.10 Wine cellars. Reception rooms. Private rooms. One bedroom is worth with 300 icons and 200 porcelain Easter eggs. A bedroom that no contemporary psyche could stand.11

This presentation of the Winter Palace with a “department store touch” was immediately perceived and criticised by contemporary critics after the release of the film. Viktor Shklovsky, for instance, wrote:

It seemed that the October Revolution was made by statues. There are mythological, historical, bronze statues, statues on the roofs, lions on the bridges, elephants, idols, and china dolls. The film is a protest rally of statues in a crockery shop… Eisenstein gets lost in ten thousand rooms [the film intertitle indicates only 1100 rooms].12

The film reminded Shklovsky of émile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames, 1883) and in his review, titled “The Reasons for its Failure”, he alleged that Eisenstein had not robbed objects of their magic but had become their slave. Fifty years later, Shklovsky would admit that he understood the film only as an old man, after he had been allowed to travel to the West and experienced the consumer age, visiting malls and famous department stores. Eisenstein’s October had been way ahead of its time, since it was a film about the end of things.13

Eisenstein conceptualised the connection between the museum, the department store and the film in a totally different way to Shklovsky. The work with immobile things allowed him to go beyond the basic phenomenon of film, namely the illusion of movement; he no longer needed that illusion since he could create movement in a different manner. By using a montage of extremely short, static shots of objects, Eisenstein was able to make these immobile objects dynamic.

Eisenstein admired the shop windows display captured by Eugène Atget, the photographer of things. This practice fascinated the French Surrealists as well as Eisenstein’s friends, the directors Grigory Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, who in 1929  shot a revolutionary version of Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise and called it Novy Vavylon (The New Babylon).

The parallels between the museum and department store have been noted by many (and this was a time when museum curators also decorated shop windows). Both store objects which trigger the delirious gaze of desire. Benjamin explored this connection in his Arcades Project, while Louis Aragon described shop windows as a depository of several modern myths (Paysan de Paris) and Andy Warhol referred to the department store as a kind of museum. The architecture theorist Sigfried Giedion compared the department store to the library, as well as the railway station, the exhibition building and the market, all of which he argued should offer a clear view of the article, well-lit spaces and facilities for communication. Anne Friedberg traced the correspondence between the museum and the shop display practice in depth in her study Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern and included the principle of display in the frame of different visual machines at the turn of the twentieth century, such as phantasmagorias, panoramas, dioramas, shadow plays and film.14

Objects on Display

Eisenstein confessed that his first very strong filmic impression came from window shopping. He devoted three pages in his memoirs to the stationer’s shop August Lyra on Riga’s Kaufstraße (which literally translates as “Shopping Street”). He visualised the images from the postcards displayed as a “flawed film” with sections missing and continuity errors, a film “only thirty-five per cent of which was suitable for showing.”15 He described his montage thinking as a phenomenon depending on three elements: firstly, there are disconnected but similar items such as postcards and standardised serial images; secondly, they are arranged in a given order; and thirdly, the necessary gaps are capable of triggering a flow of associations and forming a disintegrated narration.

With this experience in mind, Eisenstein entered the Hermitage, which had opened as a museum, the so-called New Hermitage, in 1851, and had developed its own specific principles of display. The collection was so immense that the pictures were mounted in many horizontal rows with practically no space between the frames. Following the principles of symmetry and proportion, all pictures were of the same size but there was no attempt to manipulate the viewer’s attention. This principle of display is still called “Petersburg Hanging”.

Figure 3: Patriotic Hall Inside the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

In addition to being grouped according to size, they were also separated by type (e.g. still-life, landscape, portrait). This grouping was a first step towards serialisation as the foundation of film; namely, the repetition of almost identical images projected at a specific speed. This serialisation was the first phenomenon that struck Eisenstein at the Palace, with 300 or more pieces of the same item (e.g. zinc soldiers, crystal glasses, Easter eggs, medals eggs or god statues) placed together, just like images in sales catalogues.

El Lissitzky worked extensively with a similar principle of serialisation in his exhibition design for Pressa, and his images appeared as enlarged film photograms (see the image below). Later proponents of this technique include Andy Warhol’s screen prints with shifting colours and Andreas Gurski’s photographs of pills, shoes, books and bodies.

Figure 4: Pressa Exhibition. Cologne 1928. Soviet Pavilion designed by El Lissitzky.

Eisenstein used serialised “thingness” in October on different levels, creating movement out of the same static frames and presenting the absurdity of power in the perversion of the captured items; e.g., medals awarded for “service to the Fatherland” were shown piled up as mounds of worthless trash. For Eisenstein, the path towards dominance over things laid in repetitive reproduction. Filming at original historical sites with advisors who had stormed the palace ten years earlier, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and Nikolai Podvoisky, Eisenstein began thinking in terms of a deeply symbolic film that would expose all symbolism as a form of ridiculous fetishism.

Eisenstein compared his work with the invention of the “language of objects”. He referred to Johnathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels, in which the Sages from Laputa’s Academy (part III, chapter 5) reject the use of words and instead show the things that they carry with them. While Swift’s contemporaries saw Gulliver’s Travels as a satire of the linguistic debates at the Royal Society, Eisenstein discovered in this “object language” a new possibility. He borrowed the principle of combination for objects from the African language that had no syntax. The raw should follow the rule of Verdichtung (compression), a Freudian term used by Wilhelm Wundt in Elemente der Völkerpsychologie and Ernst Kretschmer in Medizinische Psychologie to describe this specific logic. From the books of these German psychologists (translated into Russian in 1926 and 1927 respectively), Eisenstein borrowed the examples of Verdichtung sentence construction as the guide for his montage juxtaposition, demonstrating the movement from object to concept and from concept to object.16

Eisenstein attempted to destroy any fetishist nostalgia before and during shooting in the Hermitage. He had to take the objects out of their glass boxes, touch them, move their parts, change the distance between them – as he did with the God statues in the famous Kunstkamera sequence. This was a Dadaist gesture towards a museum’s untouchable things, treating them as usable, palpable and material. Ruining their aura, he detached these items from their cultural memory. He compared his strategy to the attitude of a peasant who refused to “bow down before any wooden roadside cross, claiming that he remembered when that ol’ cross was still just an apple tree!”17

This gesture was adopted by Peter Greenaway and repeated in his installation centred on the use of throne as a chair neglecting the museum’s rule “Do not touch!” This practice implied that the museum’s visitor should not contemplate objects but interact with them– touch them, move them, even destroy them (as with Duchamp’s Fountain in 1917). The anti-auratic gesture was a part of Eisenstein’s new relationship to the museum. In 1993, a postmodern Russian TV movie Misfire (Osechka), directed by Victor Makarov and based on the novel by Kir Bulychev, rewrote Eisenstein’s aesthetic victory over imperial objects. The plot of the movies is a witty invention: Leonid Brezhnev orders a re-enactment of the storming of the Winter Palace; however, it is no longer a place of state power but a museum. The young art historians imagine the possible danger that might happen when drunken visitors storm it. They organise a defence protecting high art and revise history, with an actor playing Kerensky saving the Hermitage from the revolutionary masses.18

The Mobile Spectator in the Dynamised Space

In addition to challenging the principles of display, Eisenstein also staged a different mode of vision. To stress its novelty, he juxtaposed two obsolete models of vision – that of the revolutionary masses that just move and do not see, and the detached gaze of a curious flâneur, an

indifferent spectator who was poured into the palace together with an avalanche of revolutionary masses […] A man who is suddenly seeing the museum where he had never been before. Everything around him rages but the visitor in a fur hat and a pince-nez walks through the halls, just curious.19

Both models are usually described as cinematic, but for Eisenstein they were not cinematic enough. For him, the new cinematic gaze was not rooted in the visual machines that triggered a dispersed attention. The blind movement that was crucial for Alexander Sokurov’s presentation of the Hermitage in Russian Ark (2002) as an ideological and narrative construct and a dispersed curiosity, the fleeting glance of the mobile but passive flâneur (Benjamin’s hero without a historic consciousness), was replaced by a new mode of vision that could only be provided by a new kind of motion – Eisenstein’s dialectical montage. The blind masses and museum visitors (equipped with the optical support of spectacles) were transformed into the spectators of Eisenstein’s film, endowing them with a perceptual dynamic and a new way of interaction with images. To show how film produced a perceptual dynamic of vision and space, Eisenstein prepared a diagram that illustrated his text written for the FiFo catalogue.

Figure 6: Eisenstein’s Diagram, recreated by Jay Leyda.

This new dynamic paradigm revolutionised exhibition practice, and was borrowed by El Lissitzky, who transferred it into the real three-dimensional space of the exhibit and staged it there – but without film. If a shop window arranges objects in ways that produce desire, the new curator (a term that did not yet exist) is somebody who not only places objects and mounts images but also who creates a form of organised movement using the devices that allow acceleration, deceleration or overviews (like Ferris wheels, the Eiffel Tower lifts or walkways). These allow the curator to manipulate attention and to offer a panoptic and dynamic vision.

Figure 7: Pressa Exhibition. Soviet Pavilion designed by El Lissitzky, Cologne 1928.

In El Lissitzky’s Proun, space became an exhibition object without any added items. It was staged in a new way, rejecting the Renaissance perspective of a single viewpoint in favour of a multidirectional model. In Pressa, the architecture and photography mobilised space. El Lissitzky worked with big images, enlarging photos and collages to measure four metres by 23.5 metres. This monumentality forced the viewer into a distance. The three-dimensional hangings incorporated the ceiling and the floor into the exhibition space and created a 360-degree panorama. Herbert Bayer, a German curator of the same new school of the exhibition design, called this practice “extended field of vision”20 and it was praised by the Russian Futurist Mikhail Matiushin in 1914. Eisenstein’s Glass House project, which he worked on between 1926 and 1929, proposed vision that was not impeded by ceilings and floors and could be regarded a cinematic answer to El Lissitzky’s exhibition practice.

Figure 8: Eisenstein’s story board for Glass House, 1927.

Siegfried Kracauer attributed the development of this new exhibition mode to film, which taught the viewers to see objects not from a fixed point of view but as spectators moving around.21 However, the mobilisation of perception was also being practiced in advertising in the big department stores of Weimar Germany.22 Daylight screens were developed to take film into the department store; a special projector designed by Julius Pinschewer and Duoskope’s Filmkabinett, patented in 1922, allowed advertising films to be shown in a loop, and the Antrax apparatus projecting advertisements on the pavement outside stores was described as having a “magnetic hypnotic quality”.23 As Eisenstein saw during his month-long visit to Berlin in April 1926, advertising had expanded film culture. This praxis was embedded in the discussion of long-term memory, of the manipulation of the spectators’ attraction, and a hypnotic power that persists after they had seen the images – all topics closely related to his thinking at this time.

Remarkably, just months after he finished editing October, which was released in March 1928, Eisenstein was invited by El Lissitzky to collaborate on preparing the multimedia presentation for the exhibit FiFo. El Lissitzky’s wife, Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, described this collaboration in her memoirs, mentioning that Eisenstein selected images from his films (Bronenosets Potyomkin [Battleship Potemkin, 1925], October and Staroye i novoye [The General Line, 1929]) that could be enlarged for mounting in the exhibit and published in the catalogue. She wrote: “[Eisenstein] came to our place […] and chose the excerpts with infinite patience.”24 But, Eisenstein not only picked up the stills – he also edited film clips into a loop that could be shown continuously. Photos of the Soviet film section of FiFo show a Duoskope apparatus prominently displayed, although it is not clear whether Eisenstein’s reel was actually used.25

Figure 9: Soviet Film Section of the FiFo Exhibit, Stuttgart, with the Duoskope apparatus. 1929.

The “Movement of Thought” and the “Dynamic Path of Thought”: An Intellectual Film and Narratives of a New Exhibit

For Eisenstein, a Dadaist tactile relationship to objects on display and a dynamised gaze constituted a new mode of vision. The famous one-minute “For God and Country” sequence in October had 25 shots of 16 items, with some items filmed from different angles two or three times and intercut with architectural details. The interaction with the objects – the first level – was replaced by interaction with the photographic images and their connection triggered the associative chain built on visual analogies and contrasts (e.g. the explosion of a bomb produced by the combination of a smooth oval form with the piercing rods) or visual development (e.g. from a magnificent baroque Christ to a barely processed piece of wood for the pagan idol). This chain of associations is a base from which Eisenstein’s “intellectual film” (a concept he developed during the editing of October) leads the “movement of thought” from the object to the idea. This carries the montage principle away from storytelling to building structures that dismantle ideological myths.

Figure 10: Stills, October, 1927.

Eisenstein had already formulated these ideas in his 1924 article “Montage of Film Attractions” and in an unfinished piece “Play with Objects” (1925-1926). In these texts, Eisenstein discussed how we deal with images of things; each image is a conglomeration of heterogeneous circuits, awakening different areas of association which produce expressiveness.26 Later, following Lucien Levy-Bruhl’s theory, Eisenstein attributed the logic of juxtapositions to pre-logical thinking. This thinking challenged another way of producing the abstraction – departing from spatial forms, their similarity and contrast, and replacing the causality with contiguity. In his text for the FiFo catalogue, The Dramaturgy of Film Form (1929), Eisenstein introduced the notion of superimposition, re-conceptualising the montage not as a temporal form but a spatial structure, a kind of palimpsest in which all images of a film are simultaneously present in the imagination and memory of the spectator.27

The new forms of exhibition had similar intentions: they not only offered a sensual visual experience but also created an abstraction, presenting not objects but ideas transmitted via images of the objects, such that, as noted by German art critic Franz Roh, the visitor had to read the images like a book.28 The strategy was challenging – it forced visitors to combine different activities: moving around, perceiving static and moving images, reading and thinking. The flow of images in the exhibition was influenced by the filmic model. Herbert Byer tellingly called the practice that organised the itinerary of the exhibit a “dynamic path of thought”; describing it as an extension of cinema to the surrounding space – a kind of “cinema in reverse” but he did so much later, during his work in the USA in the 1940s.29

The intellectual film and the “dynamic path of thought” of the itinerary of exhibition reveal structural similarities, since both tried to organise the world’s visual variety. While Eisenstein was testing the order of images in his montage, Aby Warburg was thinking about how to structure a row of images in his Mnemosyne Atlas. Cross-sectional films such as Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphonie einer Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, 1927), August Sander’s series Face of Our Time (1929), exhibition catalogues and photo montages in magazines tried to transform the disorder of images of the world into a comprehensible order.30

Eisenstein entered the Winter Palace expecting a museum but instead discovered a giant department store, an archive of things that he transformed into a modern curatorial project. He benefited from this experience. It is not by chance that after completing October, he conceived a spherical three-dimensional book, in which he argued that thought could not be presented by two-dimensional printing or images, but only in an imaginative space or as a hypertext with multiple levels. Eisenstein recognized that exhibitions would always be dependent on a body’s interaction with space and therefore contingency. In his imaginable museum, Eisenstein thought to gain total control. Henceforth, he conceived of film not as a machine of vision but of imagination, association, and memory.


  1. See Noël Carroll, “For God and Country”, Artforum 11:5 (January 1973): 56-60; David Bordwell, The Cinema of Eisenstein (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), pp. 92-93.
  2. El Lissitzky was not alone. At this time, architects such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe and graphic designers including Herbert Beyer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy started to create exhibits that included radio and film in a multimedia staging that was parallel to the modern theatre of Erwin Piscator. Olivier Lugon has recently analysed this trend and interpreted the new exhibit as a modern mass media along with cinema, radio and newspapers. See Olivier Lugon, “Dynamic Path of Thought: Exhibition Design, Photography and Circulation in the Work of Herbert Bayer”, in Cinema Beyond Film: Media Epistemology in the Modern Era, ed. François Albera and Maria Tortajada (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010), pp. 117-144.
  3. Frederic Jameson described Kluge’s film about Eisenstein with the metaphor of an archaeological museum. Fredric Jameson, ‘Marx and Montage’, New Left Review 58 (July­-August 2009), http://www.newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2793.
  4. Arjun Appadurai (ed.), The Social Life of Things (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011); Bill Brown, A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Bernard Stiegler Technics and Time, 2 vol. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 1998); Frank Trentmann, Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First. (London: Allen Lane, 2015).
  5. Eisenstein Archive, RGALI (Russian State Archive for Art and Literature), Moscow. The four numbers in the endnote citations refer to the document’s location. 1: Depository (fond); 2: Inventory (opis); 3: Administrative unit (edinitsa khraneniia); and 4: Sheet (list).  RGALI, 1923–1–29, sheet 2. The italics and the translation from Russian are mine.
  6. After seeing the first episodes of the film, Tretyakov wrote that the Winter Palace now must be taken over not as a political citadel but as an aesthetic one and Eisenstein’s ironic deconstruction of Palace’s objects is the way to conduct such an aesthetic storm. Sergei Tretyakov, “Kino k iubileiu”, Novyi lef 10 (1927): 29.
  7. Eisenstein Archive, RGALI, 1923–2–1105, sheet 75.
  8. Eisenstein, Stenogrammy rezhisserskikh seminarow: 1933-1935, ed. O. Bulgakowa (Tblisi: GaGa, 2018), pp. 17, 19-20.
  9. Nobody recognised this and Eisenstein noted with amusement that Nadezhda Krupskaia “wrote about the ‘funny idols from St. Basil’s Cathedral’.” Unpublished shorthand notes of a seminar at VGIK, 25. October 1933. Georgian Archive of Art, Tblisi, personal archive of Konstantin Pipinashvili, 218–1–9, sheet 1.
  10. Opened by the Scotsmen Archibald Merrilees and Andrew Muir in the 1880s, Muir & Merrilees was one of the biggest department stores in Moscow. In 1892 the store moved into a building near the Bolshoi Theatre and was renamed the Central Department Store in 1922.
  11. Quoted in Iurii Krasovskii, “Kak sozdavalsia film Oktiabr”, Iz istorii kino, vol. 6 (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1965), p. 47.
  12. Viktor Shklovsky, “O zakonakh stroeniia:  Film Eizenshteina”, in Za 60 let. Raboty o kino, ed. Efim Levin (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1985), pp. 115-116. Emphasis added.
  13. Viktor Shklovsky, Eisenstein (Moscow: Iskusstvo 1973), p. 153, 155, 158. In 1934, Shklovsky analysed a scene from Chapaev, a film made by Eisenstein’s students Sergei and Georgii Vasiliev, in which the titular hero demonstrates battle tactics with the help of potatoes. He wrote: “Chapaev works with objects and largely comes from Eisenstein’s October, a film that was much more fruitful than The Battleship Potemkin. But in Chapaev, objects express relationships between people – they do not replace people. October was a Balzacian film. The Winter Palace turned out to be overrun not so much by cadets as by statues and elephants. The revolution was directed as though it were against objects. (…) What in Eisenstein’s cinema had been a disdain for plot, and subsequently a parody of plot, now becomes a new (kind of) plot.” Za 60 let, p. 167.
  14. Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 59, 77. She noted that the department stores have been described as a machine of pleasure triggering a delirious gaze, like alcohol or hashish, р. 77.
  15. Sergei Eisenstein, Beyond the Stars: Selected Works, vol. IV, ed. and trans. Richard Taylor (London: BFI, 1988), pp. 97-99.
  16. In Elemente der Völkerpsychologie (Elements of Folk Psychology), Wilhelm Wundt quotes examples of early forms of speech construction: “The sense is: ‘The Bushman was at first received kindly by the white man, so that he would herd his sheep. Then the white man beat the Bushman, who ran away from him.’ This simple idea (…) takes approximately the following form in the Bushman’s language‚ “Bushman – there – go; here – run – to white man; white man – give – tobacco; Bushman – go – smoke; go – fill – tobacco pouch; white man – give – meat – Bushman; Bushman – go – eat – meat; stand up – go – home; go – happily, go – stand…’” Sergei Eisenstein, Writings, 1934-47: Selected Works, vol. III, ed. and trans. Richard Taylor (London: BFI, 1988), pp. 33-34.
  17. Sergei Eisenstein, The Primal Phenomenon: Art, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa and Dietmar Hochmuth, trans. Dustin Condren (Berlin: Potemkin Press, 2017), p. 145.
  18. In 1993, this re-enactment of the failed attempt of the Bolsheviks to take over the Winter Palace was projected to the failure of the Moscow coup.
  19. Sergei Eisenstein, “Ob igre predmetov” (1925), published by Naum Kleiman, Kinovedcheskie zapiski, 37-38 (1997-98): 34-36.
  20. See Lugon, “Dynamic Path of Thought”, p. 126. Bauer used the big format to force the museum visitors to be mobile and extended the hangings to the ceiling and the floor, e.g. in the German Room at the Exposition des arts décoratifs in 1930 in Paris.
  21. Siegfried Kracauer, “Photographiertes Berlin”, in Schriften, vol. 5.4, ed. Inka Mülder-Bach (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2011), p. 169.
  22. This practice was recently analysed in depth by Michael Cowan in Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity: Avant-Garde – Advertising – Modernity (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2014).
  23. Michael Cowan, “Taking it to the street”, Screen 54:4 (Winter 2013): 466.
  24. Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers (ed.), El Lissitzky, Maler, Architekt, Typograf, Fotograf; Erinnerungen, Briefe, Schriften (Dresden: VEB Verlag der Kunst, 1976), p. 85.
  25. Karel Teige wrote that the Duoskop showed “fragments from Potemkin, Strike and Vertov’s Kino-Glaz and Lenin Kino-Pravda.” Karel Teige, “‘Fifo’ ve Stuttgartu”, Red 2:10 (1929): 321. Film-Kurier indicated also that there were two Duoskops in the Russian Hall presenting clips from Eisenstein, Vertov and Shub (advertisement, “Die Avantgarde im Stuttgarter Programm”, Der Film-Kurier 139, June 13, 1929, p. 4). I am indebted to Michael Cowan and Thomas Tode for pointing to these sources.
  26. Eisenstein, “Ob igre predmetov”, p. 35.
  27. Sergei Eisenstein, “The Dramaturgy of Film Form”, in Selected Works, vol. I: Writings, 1922– 34, ed. and trans. Richard Taylor (London: British Film Institute, 1988), pp. 161-180.
  28. Franz Roh, “Die Ausstellung von heute”, Das neue Frankfurt 477 (1930): 145-146.
  29. Quoted in Lugon, “Dynamic Path of Thought”, pp. 128, 133-134.
  30. Michael Cowan analysed this trend with the example of the photo collages and montages in a review of Querschnitt. See Michael Cowan, Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity, pp. 55-108.

About The Author

Oksana Bulgakowa, Professor of Film Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. She has published several books on Russian and German cinema. She taught at the Humboldt University and Free University, Berlin, Stanford, UC Berkeley and the International Film School in Cologne. In 2012-2012 she received a Fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center.

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