Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Sabine T. Kriebel
University College Cork: War in the Visual Arts: An International, Interdisciplinary Conference
Plenary Lecture: "Prophetic Mourning: John Heartfield's Antifascist Imaginary"
University College Cork/Crawford Art Gallery
Plenary Lecture
Optional Fields

In this paper, I analyze the rhetoric of temporality and the presence of absence as a radical Left tactic, focusing on John Heartfield’s mass-circulation photomontages in the Communist Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung between 1930-1938, a period of political extremes. Though Heartfield is admired for his witty, antagonistic imagery of the enemy rather than heroic Communist propaganda, critical accounts overlook how these “furious lampoons” constituted a contribution to revolution.  I examine the complex temporal structures of Heartfield’s photomontages—what I call his “future anterior,” or, the structure of “what will have been” – in order to elucidate one dimension of his radical activism that proved prophetic. Heartfield’s photomontages mobilize a culture of fear and its repression, memory and mourning, in a socialist sur-realism rooted in the 1930s social imaginary.  Communist revolution is a spectral presence that dominates by its absence, an implied potential-future, a counterpart to the horror and anomie of capitalism’s present.