Gilded Rot Redux

Gilded Rot Recut
A Collaboration with Danny Snelson
For “Re:Reading Spaces” at Public Access Gallery, curated by David James Hall

The original “Gilded Rot” represents a re-edited Soviet version of Fritz Lang’s “Dr. Mabuse.” It was produced in 1924 by Esfir Shub with her apprentice, a young Sergei Eisenstein. The project was completed at the Goskino Montage Bureau, the Soviet leader in re-montaging. At Goskino, Shub recut imported Western films, sanitized their narratives, and rewrote their intertitles to make them ideologically suitable for Soviet redistribution. After landing on Shub and Eisenstein’s editing table, “Dr. Mabuse” was summarily rewritten into an allegory of Western depravity. The intertitles wholly transform the original film, and construct a vision of the West populated by “seekers of vulgar amusements,” “speculators,” “coquettes,” and “connoisseurs of decadent art.”

One Soviet critic describes the product of Shub and Eisenstein’s re-edit as follows: “The technically masterful example of German filmmaking, ‘Dr. Mabuse,’ has undergone the cruelest surgery and…quietly died.”

Neither a full nor partial print of the Shub/Eisenstein recut survives. The Russian intertitles, however, were preserved in the RGALI archives. Gilded Rot Recut translates these intertitles into colloquial English, and used them as a departure point for generating a speculative reimagining of Shub and Eisenstein’s film.

From the curatorial statement: “Re:Reading Spaces, featuring works by Willy Smart, Sherae Rimpsey, Mashinka Firunts & Danny Snelson, and Nathan Jones, speculatively calls on questions of reading and its practices, both its possible forms and its potential sites, not so much a reading room, but a room for reading. To put it another way, space and reading is not without literal and visual implications – the matter of reading, the matter of form, and the particular space in which they might become similar or contradictory. Reading, like space, is a proposition, a proposition that might delay or reduce all assumed and unassumed tenses, activities, and materials – to read, to give it a reading, to be read – to read silently, aloud, methodically, socially – to read literally, figuratively, and metaphorically. And that’s to say that reading does not come without a body, a body of work and a body at work: a textual corpus, the frame of an image, and some variation of a public facing private.”