History is increasingly made in images, not only because its records are largely photographic but also because our ideas about the past are formed in visual terms. This book offers a discussion of contemporary art practices which question the received notions of historical representations after the pivotal changes of 1989 in Europe. These art practices reveal, in different ways, the operative role of the photographic media in making and remaking history.
Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum is the project on which the US artist and writer Allan Sekula worked during the last three years of his life (2010–2013). The work consists, first, of a corpus of thirty-three framed photographs and two slide projections of in total over one hundred images, all made by the artist (Ship of Fools); second, it contains a gigantic collection of various objects, graphic images, postcards, and prints which the artist purchased, mostly online (The Dockers’ Museum).
Dutchman Jan Dibbets ( b. 1941) is one of the principal artists to have introduced photography into the plastic arts, and this as early as the 1960s. At a time when photography has massively invaded contemporary art institutions—not without generating confusion and excess—it is not easy to evaluate the full radicality of Dibbets's approach. This radicalism has nothing to do with modernist overkill. Dibbets did not merely go further than others; rather, he simply went elsewhere.
Marcel Mariën (1920–1993) was a key figure of Belgian post-war Surrealism. He is widely acknowledged for his landmark work on Belgian Surrealism and his collaboration with future Situationists like Guy-Ernest Debord in his journal Les Lèvres nues. Nevertheless, Mariën’s texts, collages, photographs, film, and objects have to date remained understudied.
This book is the product of a unique collaboration between Israeli artist and philosopher Aïm Deüelle Lüski and visual culture theorist Ariella Azoulay. In their longstanding working relationship, they research how to theorize the structure of the contemporary scopic regime and open a space for its civil transformation. On this occasion, Azoulay interprets a particular series of cameras built by Deüelle Lüski, along with photographs taken by these cameras.
Heterogeneous Objects provides various essays that explore the encounter of photography with other media since the 1960s. The essays offer new ways of thinking about photography beyond modernist notions of medium specificity and autonomy based upon the idea that a photograph does not rely on a coherent system of codes but is almost always encountered as a fragmented, partial object.
In and Out of Brussels examines four Brussels-based artistic projects that converge in critically investigating the figuration of Africa in the image economy of the West: Herman Asselberghs's Speech Act (2011), Sven Augustijnen's Spectres (2011), Renzo Martens's Episode III - Enjoy Poverty (2009) and Els Opsomer's Building Stories #001 [That Distant Piece of Mine] (2013).
The notion of the minor, developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Kafka, Towards a Minor Literature (1975), is introduced and connected here for the very first time to the field of photography theory. Deleuze and Guattari defined minor literature in terms of deterritorialization, politicization and collectivization. By transferring ‘the minor' to the medium of photography, this book enlarges the idea of ‘the minor' and opens it up to all kinds of mutations in the process.
Since the late 1960s, Peter Downsbrough (1940) has been an important figure in contemporary art, associated with major international art movements such as minimal art, conceptual art, and visual poetry. In his artistic work, Peter Downsbrough explores various fields including sculpture, architecture, books, film, and photography.