“I am only a human being, but through my imagination…I can be a bridge,” declared Hannah Höch from the walls of her first solo exhibition in Germany. Hannah Höch was an important member of the Berlin Dada movement and a pioneer in collage. She took a disliking to the single-mindedness of society’s perceptions and developed an artistic style that challenged this attitude
Splicing together images taken from popular magazines, illustrated journals and fashion publications, she created a humorous and moving commentary on society during a time of tremendous social change. It may be an inevitable attribute of being human that we resort to single frames of reference to steady our way. Höch literally blew apart these frames of reference in her work leaving behind an absurd representation of our process of making meaning from what we perceive. Her work is a bridge to understanding how precarious our realities are.
When the cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who died this week, appeared on Desert Island Discs, he talked about his lifelong passion for Miles Davis. He said that the music of Miles Davies represented for him “the sound of what cannot be”. What is so important about believing in what cannot be, even if it is in the imagination? I think that through his intellectual and political work life Stuart Hall demonstrated a will to strive, against all odds, to keep “what cannot be” alive, in the imagination, so that it may be a possibility in an as yet undetermined future.