March 29, 2012 § 1 Comment
Photography and the Unrepresentable A History of Photographic (Mis)representation, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom, 15th May 2012
Keynote Address: Professor Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds) “When History Assumes an Image: Problems with Knowing What You Are Seeing”
Photographic representation is commonly viewed as partial and fragmented. With today’s extreme overflow of images, photography increasingly emerges as formally deceptive and ideologically manipulative in how which it serves the construction, circulation, and validation of chosen discourses (e.g. colonialism, social violence and scientific truth). Further challenges to the notion of photographic representation lie in recent history: after World War II, the ethical implications of representation became a primary concern, while the very possibility of representation of traumatic events was questioned by theorists and artists alike. Yet, more recently, writings by Georges Didi-Huberman, Jacques Rancière, and Jean-Luc Nancy have sought to question the impossibility (or taboo) of representation, opening a discussion on how the links between photography, trauma and historical memory can be re-examined. How does the notion of the unrepresentable influence assumptions of photographic truth? What might the unrepresentable look like? Is there a representational impossibility specific to photography? When photography is requested to perform “adequate representation,” how and in what context does the request become justifiable? How do today’s image-making technologies affect the understanding of the unrepresentable?
This conference aims not only to interrogate contradictions and arbitrariness inherent in the idea of the unrepresentable, but also to open up new perspectives on the relationship between photography and the unrepresentable in artistic, cultural and social practices today. You can access the full conference programme here.