For intellectuals and leftists in continental Europe, the year 1968 has an iconic significance that it lacks in the United States and Great Britain. In France and Germany (as well as other places) the year was dominated by violent student uprisings, and to this day people are prone to identifying one another as being in or out of the group by just saying the all-important number 68: In Germany “ein 68er” is someone who developed a political consciousness during that pivotal summer. If you were born too early or too late to take part, well, tough titty, you missed out. The German student movement is interchangeably called the 68er-Bewegung, the movement of the ‘68-ers.
It’s now necessary to remind readers that when it comes to the German protest movement of the 1960s, we’re referring to West Germany, what was then known as the Federal Republic of Germany.
Born in Hamburg, Uwe Wandrey definitely qualifies as an ‘68-er par excellence. After getting trained as a shipwright in the late 1950s, he joined the army for a while and then enrolled at he University of Hamburg specializing in Germanistik (basically literature), and history and philosophy. In 1966 he founded a small independent press called the Quer Verlag (nothing to do with “queer,” the term Quer means “across” but also “oblique,” “askew,” etc.).
In 1968 he published a small volume called Kampfreime (War Rhymes), which is one of the few books in publishing history that was explicitly intended to be used in a confrontational protest context. It was small enough to fit in one’s pocket, and the edge of its metal sheath could be used to inflict damage of various types, not only against the bodily flesh of riot police, God forbid, but also for instance, to pry away the posters of the big bourgeois advertisements papering the walls where you would like to paste or scrawl your favored political message instead.
SHIT ON THE GERMAN FATHERLAND / RECRUIT THE RESISTANCE
Adam Davis at Spineless and Stapled writes:
I’ve often been told that the pen (and by extension, the book) is mightier than the sword. But what if the book is the sword?
Uwe Wandrey’s Kampfreime is a collection of rhymed chants meant for use during the German Student Movement. As far as my research can tell, it is also the first book to be designed as a weapon, and as such is a landmark in book design.
The book is small. It can be easily slipped into a protestor’s pocket. The chants are arranged thematically. The red card section dividers make it easy, presumably, to flip to the right chant even under the duress of a violent protest. The book takes full advantage of secrecy and random access - perhaps the two most historically useful aspects of the codex form.
The sharp fore edge of both of the aluminum boards extend about a quarter of an inch past the fore edge of the text. The book elegantly solves the structural problems inherent in a metal binding in that the upper board is curved at a 90 degree angle at the spine, while the lower board lies flat and is buttressed against the inward curve of the upper. Thus the book lies flat, yet is easily opened.
Kampfreime had another use as well.
The business end of a book was also intended to tear away posters, flyers, advertisements - to clear an open space in an encroaching universe of bourgeoisie paper. After all, one of the main targets of the student protest was the Axel Springer publishing house. It belongs in the same lineage as another brilliantly designed book which in many ways laid a framework for the ‘68 protests—Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, and V.O. Permild’s psychogeographical masterpiece Memoires, which featured a sandpaper dust jacket to destroy any book it was shelved against.
FOR BANNERS, WALLS, WOODEN FENCES, STONE WALLS, POSTERS, LEAFLETS, WALL NEWSPAPERS, CHALKBOARDS, AND TO BE CHANTED IN UNISON // GENERAL-POLITICAL / BUSINESS / ARMY / SCHOOL / UNIVERSITY / MORAL LIFE / TOOL
Read on, after the jump…
Posted by Martin Schneider |
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