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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article contributes to the volume’s effort to understand the history of communist visual cultures by exploring the work of the pioneering Soviet woman documentary filmmaker Esfir Shub’s cultural contribution to the First Five-Year Plan for economic development. Shub’s K.Sh.E. (1932) focuses on the production and circulation of energy both inside and outside human bodies. Her first sound film, K.Sh.E., turns to synchronized and nondiegetic sound to make the invisible transfer of energy and the location of latent energy sensible. The article situates Shub’s work both in relation to earlier visual cultural projects’ use of energetics and contemporary photomontage practices. The period of the Plan was one when forms of nonfiction narration were highly contested; locating Shub’s film and the discourse surrounding it within this terrain allows us to see the range of allowable documentary abstraction at a time when efforts were being made to consolidate aesthetic practice more broadly.

Keywords: documentary film, energetics, Esfir Shub, montage, First Five-Year Plan, early sound cinema

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