Apart from the work of Eduard Fuchs, there has been little Marxist scholarship on caricature and satire. This is a glaring omission, especially in light of the work of John Heartfield, whose photomontages were viewed across the political spectrum as well as across class boundaries. To discover how Heartfield's photomontages interpellate their subject as a politically engaged viewer, this article investigates the mechanisms by which satire addresses its audience, how it communicates its message, and to what degree we might judge its effectiveness as a means of persuasion. A Benjaminian analysis of the Verfremdungseffekt produced by montage, the alienating distanciation of unexpected juxtapositions, contributes to the construction of a true dialectical image of satire, which allows us to plot the oppositional axes of satire and to extrapolate the characteristics of other forms of mass persuasion such as state propaganda. In this way we can trace how mass persuasion results in political action.
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Misa Nikolic; First as Tragedy, Second as Farce: Heartfield's Photomontages and the Engaged Viewer. New German Critique 1 August 2017; 44 (2 (131)): 25–40. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-3860189
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