This article collects four texts written by German feminist-materialist art historian Lu Märten (1879–1970): “Artistic Aspects of Labor in Old and New Times” Published in 1903 in the social-democratic journal Die Zeit at a time when Märten dedicated the majority of her writings on form to feminist perspectives on housing and reproduction. It is her first systematic essay on what will become a central concern of her own “life-work,” namely, the question of how to break open the capitalized division between “productive labor” and what Märten calls “social-personal” work. Märten thus sketches an understanding of labor outside of its capitalist determinations and notions of progressive temporality. Essence and Transformation of Forms (Arts) This text appeared in 1924 in the journal Arbeiterliteratur. Its immediate objective was to explain the aim of her similarly titled book to a proletarian audience. In this short summary, Märten emphasizes the importance of ethnography for her project. Rather than isolating forms from their social surroundings, as was traditional in art history, the practice of viewing forms ethnographically allows their origins to be seen in a broader framework of social-collective materialities and vital needs. Märten argues that this shift in perspective could be an aid de-fetishizing workerss relationships with the object world. “Art and Proletariat” This was first published in 1925 in Franz Pfemfert's Die Aktion and later that year reprinted in Czech translation in Pásmo, a magazine run by the revolutionary artist collective Devětsil. The article argues that the notion of “proletarian art” is politically and systematically pointless given that “art” is merely the historically specific, impoverished manifestation of form under the conditions of industrial capitalism. In place of art, Märten draws on the notion of “classless form” in order to imagine a monist state of form beyond the divisions of class, gender, and species. “Workers and Film” Written in 1928, this text was not printed during Märten's lifetime, instead serving as a script for a radio broadcast, as was the case for most of her published and unpublished texts on film. Almost a decade before Walter Benjamin's Artwork essay (1936), Märten's “Workers and Film,” along with numerous other articles and radio broadcasts, addressed strikingly similar questions, yet under profoundly different premises. In Märten's synthetic understanding of a monist material culture of people and things, film promised to actualize a technologically mediated monism for the industrial age.

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