restricted access Found Objects: (Jem Cohen, Ben Katchor, Walter Benjamin)

Jem Cohen's film Lost Book Found and Ben Katchor's comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer theorize American memory and urban decay. In moving images and sequential panels respectively, Cohen and Katchor comment on melancholy, nostalgia, commodity fetishism, and the meanings extracted from physical objects and lived space. Their works of cinema and graphic art draw attention to urban shopping centers, the repetitious work of salespeople in those ritualized environments, and the mass public's transitory consumer experiences. This essay examines Cohen's and Katchor's work in light of Walter Benjamin's historical materialist criticism.