Brecht In L.A.
From the author of Signs and Meaning in the Cinema, a rediscovered appraisal of Bertolt Brecht’s war-time exile in California. Tracing the swirl of interconnections between salonnières and stars, exiles and dissidents, artists of stage and screen. Beyond Hollywood frustrations, what of a Brechtian cinema?
Liberation from bourgeois marriage, central radical demand from Sand and Kollontai to Piercy, is subsumed in the age of global capital by calls for same-sex property rights. Wollen’s unmade film treatment celebrates loves unsanctified by church or state—de Beauvoir’s relationships with Sartre and Algren.
Threads from the history of Mexican surrealism: the Blue House in Coyoacán and Breton’s protegée as avant-garde antidotes or postmodern devotional objects. The components of the Kahlo cult and its basis in the artist’s own practice of self-fabulation and masquerade, concealment and display.
Situationists and Architecture
How dreams of unitary urbanism that would confound Le Corbusier could be a summons to social revolution. The Situationist ideas of dérive and détournement as gypsy principles of chance and larceny in the imagination of a utopian space. Inspirations from Neuschwanstein to the Watts riots, visions from Constant’s helicoptered nomads to Jorn’s ceramic garden.
Government by Appearances
Louis XIV’s passion for dancing, and its metamorphoses, at the beginnings of a society of the spectacle. Peter Wollen looks at the birth of ballet as a projection of state power, and the bonding of elites that court entertainment bequeathed to modern democracies.
Magritte and the Bowler Hat
Why did Magritte populate his surrealist images with bowler hats? Peter Wollen takes us from the oneirics of the Belgian painter to the antics of Tintin and Chaplin, the purism of Le Corbusier, memories of Beckett, fantasies of Bond and Kundera. Emblem of working men and city toffs, cabaret girls and Orange parades—what icons have matched it for multiple meanings?
Our Post-Communism: The Legacy of Karl Kautsky
“Recently, as a result of preparing for this paper, I read for the first time Karl Kautsky’s Bolshevism at a Deadlock, published in German, in September 1930, as Der Bolschewismus in der Sackgasse—which we could better translate perhaps as No Way Through for Bolshevism. I found this an . . .” read more
Scenes from the Future: Komar & Melamid
“‘The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying, and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’ Gramsci’s famous dictum, written in his prison notebook in 1930, seems to describe two apparently disparate situations—the Soviet Union, plunged . . .” read more
The Situationist International
“De Sade liberated from the Bastille in 1789, Baudelaire on the barricades in 1848, Courbet tearing down the Vendôme Column in 1870—French political history is distinguished by a series of glorious and legendary moments which serve to celebrate the convergence of popular revolution with art in revolt. In . . .” read more