Judith Siegmund :: Visual Art, Conceptual Art, Philosophy


Text banners in the St. Laurentius Church in Schönberg, Germany, quoted from Peter Weiss, Die Ästhetik des Widerstands


Peter Weiss’ novel Die Ästhetik des Widerstands (published in English as The Aesthetics of Resistance) appeared in three volumes from 197581. The books reached cult status among leftists in East and West Germany in the 1980s. Peter Weiss took as his subject the historical experiences of the labor movement in the years of resistance against fascism. The first-person narrator, a young man of working-class background in National Socialist Germany, emigrates and becomes a chronicler of this fight. Building on discussions concerned with exemplary works of literature and the fine arts, Peter Weiss, who himself was a poet and artist, asked what role art played in the project of emancipating the suppressed.

The political situation in Germany fundamentally changed in 1989, and thus the timeliness of these texts at first seemed to have outlived their relevance. I installed banners in the church in Schönberg with quotations on art taken from the novel. The contents and writing style are reminiscent of the period before the fall of the Berlin Wall (and consequently the fall of East and West German borders). However, the quotes should not be read merely as questions about art in reference to their importance for proletarian history, since new associations and connections can also be made. Schönberg (Mecklenburg) is located in the former inner-German border area.