R O U N D T A B L E
SAT 6 OCT 2001 © 2 PM TO 5 PM
Auditorium, Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes Singapore
COLLAGES BY CONTEMPORARY WOMEN :
Moderator Chung Yuen Kay Sociologist ; Senior Lecturer, Human Resource Management Unit, Faculty of Business Administration, National University of Singapore
Participants Irina Aristarkhova Lecturer /Theorist ; Asst. Professor, University Scholars Programme & the School of Computing, National University of Singapore Amanda Heng Artist Binghui Huangfu, Director/Curator, Earl Lu Gallery, Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts Dana Lam Artist/Writer ; President, AWARE Shirlene Noordin Visual Arts Project Consultant.
n FILM SCREENING n FRI 12 OCT 2001 © 7 PM TO 9 PM Auditorium, Goethe-Institut InterNationes Singapore Screening of six Walther Ruttmannfs films (Total duration : two hours) - Berlin, The SymphonyOf The City (1927, 65 min), Opus 1 (1919-21, 10 min), Opus 2 (1922, 3min), Opus 3 (1923, 4 min), Opus 4(1923-25, 4 min), The Dream Of The Falcon (1923, 1 min), The Wonder (1925, 3 min), World Melody (1929, 55e)and At Night (1931, 10e). A contemporary of Hannah Höch, Walthur Ruttmann (1887-1941), a painter, filmmakerand a keen musician who had made a radical experiment in montage of film and sound. His Berlin, Symphony of aGreat City (1927),is one of the most important and influential films of the Weimar period - a timeless demonstrationof the cinema's ability to enthrall on a purely visceral level. With high-speed montage techniques, creating a dizzyingseries of images, it captures a day in the life of Berlin - the fierce and gruff spirit of a city in a very exceptional andoften poetic way........................................................................................................................................
Hannah Höch( 1889-1978 )Born in the Thuringian city of Gotha. A pioneer in the field of photomontage and the sole female member of the Berlin Dada movement.continued to produce innovative works into the1970's. Much of her work focuses on the political and psychological dissection of the representation of women in the mass media during the Weimar era.
An European artistic and literary movement (1916-1923) that flouted conventional aesthetic and cultural values by producing works marked by nonsense, travesty, and incongruity.
The actual term montage - from monter : to mount as in fixing a photographic print to a piece of card - did originate in the cinema. It describes the means by which a sequence is made by cutting between different elements of a scene, or scenes which may have been shot at different times in different places.
PhotomontageA technique of making a pictorial composition from parts of different photographs and to the composition so made. Photomontage was popularized by the Dadaists as a method for political propaganda, social criticism, and generally to assist the shock tactics.
The German Dadaists made montages from stills taken from newspapers and magazines cut up for political effect. Raoul Hausmann worked with his lover Hannah Höch and friends John Heartfield and George Grosz right through the days of the Weimar Republic until the victory of the Nazis in 1933. Höch got the idea from humorous mutilations made by amateurs tampering with photographs of authority figures like the Kaiser whose dignified uniforms and frock coats were topped with the faces of nobodies.
During the First World War Höch sent home-made subversive postcards to Heartfield and Hausmann who reciprocated, pasting their own cut-ups over the printed picture side. While the censors carefully read the handwriting on the message side to see if it conveyed breaches of security or protocol they completely missed the anti-war messages the picture side carried through the public mails. The censors didn't expect to see anything wrong, so they didn't.
Why Höch ? Why photomontage ? Certainly, even the briefestsummary of Höch's career can indicate why she has recentlymoved so decisively to center stage in art history and exhibitionmaking. Born in 1889 into an orderly, bourgeois family, Höchwas encouraged to develop her artistic talents. Studying appliedarts in Berlin during the First World War (when she also beganpublishing lace and embroidery designs, a professional job shewould hold until 1926), she fell in with the circle of radical thinkersand artists who went on to form the Berlin Dada group.Her close involvement with this seminal movement of anarchic,oppositional creativity was strengthened through her tempestuousand intense partnership with the (married) Raoul Hausmann. (Sheaborted two pregnancies because he refused to leave his wife.) Thephotomontagists of the years immediately following the end ofthe War -- especially the famous, uniquely large-scaled "Cut withthe Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer Belly CulturalEpoch of Germany" which she exhibited in the epochal exhibitionof 1920, the so-called "First Dada Fair" in Berlin -- established(and continue to sustain) her reputation as an incisive commentatoron social, cultural, and political realities.
After the Berlin Dada group dissolved (the moment of revolutionarypotential having passed), pursued what amounts to two parallel, butsurely not unconnected, careers: as a painter and watercolorist, shecontributed regularly to Berlin and national exhibitions, showingworks that dealt in a symbolic, evocative, even romantic way withthemes of nature, birth, and human relations; and on the other as aphotomontagist, creating a large number of small-scaled works whichtreat issues of identity, gender roles, exoticism, and fantasy, with avisual and conceptual wit, now mordant, now whimsical. Her careeras an artist in both these fields continued without significantinterruption until her death in 1978.She chose not to emigrate during the years of Nazi dictatorship andwar, withdrawing instead to a small house on the outskirts of Berlin.Her personal life was marked by the separation from the abusiveHausmann in 1922, a nine-year lesbian relationship with the Dutchwriter Til Brugman from 1926 to 1933, and a marriage of roughly equallength to a German businessman. The postwar years saw a revitalizedproductivity, steadily increasing exposure for her art, and renewedattention in the context of the revival of scholarly and aesthetic interestin Dada beginning in the late 1950s.Readers alert to the recurrent concerns of contemporary culture will haveimmediately spotted those aspects of Höch's life and work directlyresponsible for her prominence: a bisexual artist who commented on thesocial construction of feminine identities by deploying the quintessentiallymodern medium of photomontage with its fascinating combination ofphotograph's rhetoric of factuality with the imaginative, even abstractingfreedom of collage. Moreover, Höch lived a long, creative and more orless independent life of apparently exemplary resilience. Kathy Halbreich,the Walker Art Center's director, describes the artist as "a historical figurewith a particularly contemporary voice, [whose] photomontages ... speakdirectly to the concerns of many artists and scholars working today."