Starting out from the interpretation of Picasso’s Guernica in Peter Weiss’s The Aesthetics of Resistance, this essay discusses how, why, and for what purposes Weiss inserted extensive discussions of classical and contemporary artworks in his novel. More specifically, and by introducing the two notions of the foldout and political emergence, the essay investigates how the visual artworks in Weiss’s narrative reconfigure understandings of temporality, collectivity, and realism. A central question concerns the novel’s way of transforming representations of objective oppression, and even death itself, into figures of emancipatory subjective agency. Analyses of the novel’s interpretive engagement with visual artworks such as Guernica demonstrate how these sections of the novelistic text interrupt historical temporality, establish a transhistorical collectivity, and superimpose the experience of the victim with the perspective of the witness. In this way, it is argued, Weiss’s narrative enables an identification with the mute experience of destruction while converting that experience into a future-oriented political force: the emergence and continuation of collective struggle.

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