Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Sabine Kriebel;
Art and the Memory of Revolution, 1789-1939, College Art Association Conference
The Revolutionary Future Anterior: John Heartfield┐s 1930s Photomontages
Los Angeles, CA USA
Invited Lectures (Conference)
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. áI 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. áCommunist 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.