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A Photography of Suspicion in Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung, 1921-1938
The politically radical Workers’ Illustrated Magazine (or AIZ) aimed to teach its large readership that reality was often not what it appeared to be. That that end it devised stunning uses of photography to contest a picture’s first flush of meaning, frequently going so far as to undermine the medium’s very representational veracity. Standing behind its photographic pedagogy was a strict Marxist approach to evidence that French philosopher Paul Riceour describes as the hermeneutics of suspicion, a form of interpretation that does not seek the original truth embedded in a text, but the reality that it is made to hide. As applied to pictures, the AIZ’s photography of suspicion generated elaborate photomontages and image-text-graphic amalgams. The compositions regularly taught readers how to discern a veiled world of things and phenomena from the distorted shape they gave to appearances, particularly as those forms had appeared in a photograph.
Andrés Mario Zervigón is Professor of the History of Photography at Rutgers, the State University in New Jersey (USA). He is author of John Heartfield and the Agitated Image (2012) and Photography and Germany (2017). With Tanya Sheehan he edited Photography and Its Origins (2014), with Sabine Kriebel Photography and Doubt (2017), and with Donna Gustafson Subjective-Objective: A Century of Social Photography (2017). His current book project is a history of Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung, for which he received a CASVA Senior Fellowship (2013-14). Zervigón leads The Developing Room, an academic working group at Rutgers devoted to photography studies.
This event is generously supported by the Scripps College Department of Art History, the Pomona College Art History Department, and the Scripps College J.C. Harper Lectureship Fund.