Komma (after Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun)
Antonia Hirsch
February 12 — March 19,
Reception and book launch *Saturday*, February 12, 8PM

Presented in an installation context, Komma (after Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun) is a 16mm film based on Hollywood script writer Dalton Trumbo’s seminal anti-war novel. The project re-imagines Dalton Trumbo’s work through its syntactical idiosyncrasy.

Set around the time of World War I, the novel with its—then particularly inconvenient—anti-war message, was first published in 1939. The book came into true prominence during the Vietnam war era, after its author had re-emerged from McCarthyist blacklisting throughout the 1950s.

The central device of Trumbo’s novel is the body of the protagonist, a young American soldier who, incredibly, has lost his face and both arms and legs during combat. Unable to see, speak, hear, smell, or act, he is fully conscious, but seemingly completely without agency. As he struggles to come to terms with his personal tragedy, he strains to communicate with ‘the outside world.’

The entire book was written without commas, though all other punctuation conforms to established conventions. The term comma is derived from Greek komma, meaning ‘something cut off.’ The film marks the location where commas would appear according to the Chicago Style Manual.

Antonia Hirsch lives and works in Berlin and Vancouver. Her practice consistently engages with systems—geographical, quantitative, syntactic—that underwrite the most basic understandings of the world. She questions the often invisible hierarchies of these epistemological structures by relating them to more familiar territory: embodied experience. Her work has been exhibited at Program, Berlin, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Power Plant in Toronto, the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, and as part of Frieze Projects in London, UK, among others. Her work can be found in public collections such as that of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Canada Council Art Bank, and the Sackner Archive of Concrete & Visual Poetry, Miami Beach. Her work is currently on view at the National Gallery of Canada as part of It is What It Is, Recent Acquisitions of New Canadian Art; at the Neue Sächsische Galerie, Chemnitz, Germany, as part of Gullivers Sechste Reise, and at Republic Gallery in Vancouver with Stoppages, starting February 18. More information on the artist’s practice can be found at antoniahirsch.com.

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