In the twentieth century, due to the development of mechanical reproduction and press, photomontage became a popular means of communication – popular and diverse in its nature and methods of exploitation (considering press in Germany or in the Soviet Union and individual works of art). It is one of the cultural phenomena related to the change of rhythm of life and a sense of its increased pace, and an impression of fragmentation of reality. This article questions the role of photomontage in such an experience. The said role is complex: sometimes photomontage allows for expression of that experience, and sometimes it is meant to evoke it, in the spirit of modernity; it is both a tool of agitation and critique. In order to answer this question I shall assume the approach of Walter Benjamin, who diagnoses the crisis of experience and the loss of storytelling skills – and describes the potential of photography. This potential is differently approached by artists and scholars who point out contradictory purposes and results of using photomontage. Referring to various works of art shall make it possible to define the tensions characteristic of photomontage. Due to its plasticity and the ambiguity of a photograph, and the potential for (de)contextualization and (de)construction, photomontage can function in a hard to understand, rapidly changing world and address the fragmentation of experience.
photomontage, photography, fragmentation, reconstruction, content of experience
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Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw
Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00-927 Warsaw, Poland
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