Browsing Art and Design by Publisher "The Kurt Schwitters Society"
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Kurt Schwitters in Isolation - An Aesthetics of ResistanceFollowing his escape from Norway and arrival in Britain - via Edinburgh - Kurt Schwitters was interned in the Isle of Man from July 1940 to November 1941. The essay investigates Kurt Schwitters isolation and marginalised position during the internment period and the different modalities of exile which Schwitters trajectory reveals. Upon his arrival in Douglas Schwitters use of the discarded and worthless in his finding, collecting and transformation of materials was already established. In the context of exile this process finds its denouement in a series of collages, assemblages, sculpture and paintings, which form part of an archive of over 200 works made during this time. In these works, the febrile and sensitive nature of their handling and making embodies the conditions of habitation, isolation and exile within which they were crafted. The artworks which Schwitters made embody a very specific material presence in the rarefied use of objects, materials and things, which take on a different significance in this context. Schwitters status as an artist in exile is that of a ‘double-bind’ having fled a home to which he and fellow refugee artists could likely never return. The situation was one defined, confined and reconfigured by circumstances both within and beyond his control in terms of the choice and or availability of materials, which he and fellow artists had access to. These conditions were ultimately defined by the isolation, uncertainty and fear, which the internees endured in their separation from family and friends. At the same time the fabric of the environment and significantly here the lived-in-space, which Schwitters inhabited came to signify the hermetic nature of specific works and performances. The separation from home, family and friends and the depression and anxiety, which Schwitters and other internees suffered was compounded in their not knowing from one week to the next when they might be released. This was exasperated as a result of the restrictions which their correspondence was subject to in its censorship.
MerzNorth Seminar 3, 28th October 2015Essay/review of the MerzNorth 3 Seminar proceedings for the November 2015 issue of the Kurt Schwitters Society Newsletter. The event was held at the University of Cumbria on the 28th October 2015. The review also includes an account of the author's paper at the seminar related to the preparation of an AHRC funding proposal related to the legacy of Kurt Schwitters internment and exile in Britain during the 1940s.