Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Sabine Kriebel
Princeton University: Objects of Affection: Towards a Materiology of Emotions
"Left-Wing Laughter: John Heartfield's Mischievous Communist Subject"
Princeton University; Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies
Oral Presentation
2012
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0
Optional Fields
04-MAY-12
06-MAY-12

This paper investigates the strategies of debasement and the production of derisive laughter as a radical Left practice in the 1930s, interrogating Heartfield’s recruitment of photographic affect and embodied reading for the purposes of agit-prop. The confrontations of mass-replicated photographs, newsprint, and the human sensorium are at issue here. Rather than perpetuate the defensive numbing of the senses that Weimar critics, from Kracauer to Benjamin, argue to be the product of technological onslaught, Heartfield re-invigorates the senses by mischievously summoning disgust and revulsion, actualized by photographic specificity and mitigated by humor. Embedded in Marxist theories of critical humour and current studies of affect, revulsion, and laughter, this paper locates Heartfield’s activist art within a subtle opposition to Stalinist cultural dogma.

 
Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies