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The Chatter of the Visible

Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany

Patrizia C. McBride

Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Imprint: University of Michigan Press
Published: 01/2016
Pages: 246
Subject: Art - History/Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), History - Europe/Germany, Photography - Criticism
Print ISBN: 9780472053032
eBook ISBN: 9780472900664


The Chatter of the Visible examines the paradoxical narrative features of the photo montage aesthetics of artists associated with Dada, Constructivism, and the New Objectivity. While montage strategies have commonly been associated with the purposeful interruption of and challenge to narrative consistency and continuity, McBride offers an historicized reappraisal of 1920s and 1930s German photo montage work to show that its peculiar mimicry was less a rejection of narrative and more an extension or permutation of it� a means for thinking in narrative textures exceeding constraints imposed by 'flat' print media (especially the novel and other literary genres).

McBride's contribution to the conversation around Weimar-era montage is in her situation of the form of the work as a discursive practice in its own right, which affords humans a new way to negotiate temporality; as a particular mode of thinking that productively relates the particular to the universal; or as a culturally specific form of cognition.


“This is by far the best book written on the topic of montage and narrative in Weimar culture so far. It establishes historical and theoretical parameters one will have to work with in the future. McBride states that the aesthetic means of montage appeared as a most fitting correlate to the multiple traumas woven into the historical fabric of Weimar Germany.” 
—Paul Michael Lutzeler, Washington University