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Dr. Samuel Adams

Juliane-und-Franz-Roh-Stipendiatin am Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Mai - August 2017

Gruppe/n: Ehem. Fellows


At the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Samuel Adams is revising his book manuscript, Media of Activation, Media of Repression: Art and Technology on the Modern German Stage, 1920-1980. This study focuses on a tradition of political theater in which artists mobilized lighting, motor apparatuses, moving images, and recorded sounds in response to nefarious government applications of those same technologies. The narrative moves from the stage work of John Heartfield, László Moholy-Nagy, and George Grosz in the interwar period, to Nazi scenographers, Heartfield’s collaborations with Bertolt Brecht in East Germany, and finally to the adaptation of Brecht’s strategies in West Germany under Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wolf Vostell. Media of Activation, Media of Repression asks how democratic applications of new technologies have been constituted and subverted. Through this history, we see how the differences between art and propaganda were not chiefly in medium or technique, but in ideological framing. The strategies that producers and consumers of electronically mediated images employed throughout modern German theater history offer clues today for how we too might resist the allure and coercion of such images, and ultimately exert agency over them.

Samuel Adams is a visiting lecturer at Tufts University and adjunct faculty at Wentworth Institute of Technology, both in Boston, Massachusetts. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California in 2016 and has since served as Curatorial Research Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. He previously held positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Research Institute. His publications have addressed postwar and contemporary art practices in Europe and globally, as well as opera and theater production.

[Stand: Mai 2017]