The Listener

David Lester. Arbeiter Ring (www.arbeiterring.com), $19.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-894037-48-8
Musician/activist/artist Lester offers a dense mix of art, politics, and human connection in this story, which brings together a contemporary sculptor named Louise and the 1933 machinations that began Hitler's career in Germany. Stark black and white drawings show modern faces in sunglasses, symbols of urban anonymity, while the faces of the past loom up and frequently overtake them. Intellectual urban dwellers trade postmodern truisms as a punk aesthetic bristles on every page, with Louise traveling Europe, visiting museums and the scenes of historical devastation. Everywhere, she reflects on the ways art and politics are intertwined, musing for example on Picasso's antifascist Guernica vs. his later work Massacre in Korea. Hitler appears midway through the book, his face filling the page in stark light and shadow. Louise creates her political sculpture, still wondering whether it is true that "art has the power to question, to argue, to bear witness, to inspire..." The book ends with a chronology of Hitler's rise to power and an extensive bibliography listing works about Nazism and its relationship to art. A dense and fiercely intelligent work that asks important questions about art, history, and the responsibility of the individual, all in a lyrical and stirring tone. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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