Alister Wedderburn
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Aesthetic parasitism
Cartooning the camp
in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
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Chapter 3 outlines and evaluates an aesthetic approach to parasitism as demonstrated by three comic strips drawn by Horst Rosenthal, a German Jew detained at Gurs in Vichy France between 1940 and 1942 and later killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It reads Rosenthal’s three extant comic strips as examples of parasitic practice that seek to intervene into the extremities of the social context in which they were created on an aesthetic level. The three strips function by introducing dissonant aesthetic subjects into their representations of concentration: holidaymakers, and even in one case Mickey Mouse. In these ambiguous ‘aesthetic interruptions’, Rosenthal sets up intersubjective encounters that enable him to engage with the desubjectifying and depoliticising effects of detainment with a latitude unavailable within the physical world of the camp. ‘Aesthetic parasitism’ thus refers to a performative claim to subjectivity made within an aesthetic sphere that stands as the cipher or avatar of a corresponding physical space.

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Humour, subjectivity and world politics

Everyday articulations of identity at the limits of order


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