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Photo: Collage workshop at Tate Exchange, London. Credit: Vaia Paziana
Photo: Collage workshop at Tate Exchange, London. Credit: Vaia Paziana

Open Lecture: Ruth Hemus // Photomontage as a tool for turbulent times

One of the most fruitful innovations of Dada was photomontage. The Berlin branch, above all, made use of cutting and pasting as a formal technique. Newspapers and magazines were plumbed for fragments of verbal and visual texts. Reconfigured, this everyday photomatter unleashed the power to unsettle. Elevated to an art form, photomontage offered a means both to celebrate and critique Weimar culture, society and politics. Hannah Höch, a lone woman in the Dada Club, was one of its most prolific pioneers. ‘I saw it as my task to try to capture these turbulent times pictorially’, she once said. This lecture will present some exemplary works by Höch that express the pleasures and pitfalls of early 20th century modernity. It will end with an outlook to the place and potential of her legacy in a new but no less turbulent century.

The lecture is part of the course Montage as Exhibitionary Practice run by Associate Professor Lisa Rosendahl at the Academy of Fine Art. Ruth Hemus’ stay in Oslo is made possible in collaboration with the Goethe Institute and Henie Onstad Art Center.

Ruth Hemus is a Senior Lecturerin the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a member of the Centre for Visual Cultures. Her research specialism is avant-garde movements of the early 20th Century spanning literature, performance and visual arts, with a focus on gender. Her book Dada's Women was published by Yale University Press in 2009 and was shortlisted and commended for the Gapper Prize in 2010. Her forthcoming book The Poetry of Céline Arnauld: From Dada to Ultra-Modern will be published by Legenda (Research Monographs in French Studies no. 58) in 2020.

Photo: Collage workshop at Tate Exchange, London. Credit: Vaia Paziana