The revolutionary future anterior: The politics of memory in John Heartfield’s photomontages
Sabine Kriebel, UCC History of Art
6 February 2012, Monday, 12-1pm, Tyrconnell, Seminar Room
This paper analyzes the rhetoric of temporality and the politics of mourning as radical Left tactic, focusing on the mass-circulation photomontages that John Heartfield manufactured for the Communist Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung between 1930-1938. I examine the complex temporal structures of Heartfield's political 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 to be uncannily prophetic. As I will show, Heartfield's photomontages mobilize a culture of fear and its repression, memory and mourning, to suggest the real horror and anomie of capitalist society. Communist revolution is a spectral presence that dominates by its absence, an implied eternal prospect that is always just beyond grasp, the elusive potential-future, a counterpart to the enduring past and the desolate present.