In this colloquium, Verena Kick will introduce her research for her current book project, Weimar Germany’s Counter Publics – Workers, Soldiers, and Women in Weimar Photobooks (working title). This project examines the intersection of German non-fiction writing and visual culture, specifically the montage of texts and images in photobooks as an approach to analyze the changing public sphere during the Weimar Republic. Her presentation will mainly focus on the idea of the, what she calls, “functional montage” and its application in photobooks of the German interwar period. Building on the analysis of these montages, she will address the photobook’s potential to not only represent the interwar years, but also to create its publics, including so-called counter publics.
After introducing the concept of the functional montage, which draws on ideas by Walter Benjamin, Sergei Eisenstein, and Dziga Vertov, as well as incorporating theories on counter publics, Verena’s main questions for both her book project and this colloquium are, among others: How are groups of people and social classes represented in photobooks? Who (and what) is represented, and to what end, i.e., can one call these groups counter publics?
So as to approach these questions, she will analyze excerpts from some of the works that are part of her book project, including Ernst Friedrich’s two volume work Krieg dem Kriege! (1924; 1926), Kurt Tucholsky and John Heartfield’s Deutschland, Deutschland über alles (1929), Graf Alexander Stenbock-Fermor’s Deutschland von unten (1931), and Erich Grisar’s Mit Kamera und Schreibmaschine durch Europa (1932). These excerpts will also be made available to colloquium participants in advance, as a basis for further discussions on montage strategies and on the representation/creation of publics and counter publics in Weimar photobooks.