Jenny Nachtigall. Contradiction and circulation
Never Again. Art Against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries

The first part of the conference “Never Again” entitled “Art Against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries”, takes up the debate underway in the field of art and elsewhere on the forms of engagement by the artistic community and cultural institutions in historically crucial moments. 

Lecture "Contradiction and circulation: (anti-fascist) politics of form in Berlin Dada and beyond" by Jenny Nachtigall

Departing from a range of pictorial and performative techniques that were developed within the circle of Berlin Dada between 1918 and c. 1922, this paper will focus on the shifts as well as the continuities that characterized the more overtly anti-fascist illustrations, montage works and photographs that artists like George Grosz and John Heartfield produced in the late 1920s for communist and left radical magazines (e.g. AIZ, Rote Fahne). The paper is in particular interested in tracing how what could be understood as Berlin Dada’s approach to “form as contradiction” relates to the politics of mass circulation that for instance defined Heartfield’s later response to the rise of Fascism and in how and why these politics differ from those in other artistic contexts of inter-war Europe (e.g. the circle around George Bataille in France or Gherasim Luca’s dissident Surrealism in Rumania). Thinking through questions of media and myth, affect and violence, the paper ultimately wants to ask, whether (and if so which) lessons can be drawn from these historical strategies for the different political and artistic landscape of the present. 

Jenny Nachtigall

Jenny Nachtigall is a professor for art theory and history in interim (2019-20) at the Staedelschule Schule in Frankfurt. She studied art history, cultural studies and philosophy in Lueneburg and London (2005-2009). From 2014-2019 Nachtigall was a research associate at the Institute for Philosophy/Aesthetic Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Previously she worked as a research assistant at Tate Modern, London (2010-11) and has taught a.o. at the Humboldt University Berlin and the History of Art Department at University College London (UCL), where she also finished her PhD titled "Form as Contradiction. Berlin Dada's Impossible Formalisms" (publication in preparation). Currently she works in particular on the afterlives of vitalisms in art and theory since 1900. 2013-14 she realized the project "art and (re)production" (HU Berlin, UCL) together with Dorothea Walzer and 2017 she co-initiated the exhibition and magazine project Klassensprachen/ Class Languages together with Eva Birkenstock, Kerstin Stakemeier and Stephanie Weber. Recent publications include Hybrid Ecologies (forthcoming, diaphanes, ed. with M.Muhle, M.Kesting, S.Witzgall), »The Modern Subject, a Dead Form Living. On the Aesthetics of (a Fractured) Vitalism« (2019, in Post-Apocalyptic SelfReflection, ed.Tanja Widmann, Laura Preston), »Vitalism/ Living Form« (2018, in Neolithic Childhood. Art in a False Present, c. 1930, ed. Anselm Franke, Tom Holert). She writes a.o. for Artforum and Texte zur Kunst.

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