Komma (After Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got his Gun”)

Screening, book launch, and a conversation between Ellen Blumenstein, Antonia Hirsch, and Maria Muhle

Antonia Hirsch’s project Komma (after Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun”) consists of a 16 mm film installation and a book by the same title. Hirsch’s book, with accompanying essays by Maria Muhle and Kristina Lee Podesva, is based on Hollywood scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo’s seminal anti-war novel “Johnny Got His Gun”. As a modified facsimile of the original publication’s first edition, the project re-imagines Trumbo’s novel through its syntactical idiosyncrasy, the omission of all commas. The word „comma“ is derived from the Greek komma, meaning „something cut off,“ reflecting eerily on the plight of the fictional Johnny: a young American soldier who has been brutally mutilated in combat. Ellen Blumenstein, Maria Muhle, and the artist will attend to questions of voice and embodiment. Contrasting these with notions of caesura in the broadest sense, the discussion will address issues of silencing, censorship, and instrumentalization that are refracted through the original novel’s historical context and through Trumbo’s personal history as one of the “Hollywood Ten” during the McCarthy era. The evening will commence with a screening of Komma (after Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun”) (2010, 16mm, b/w, 15min).


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