Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art. Georges Didi-Huberman. Pennsylvania State University Press (). When the French edition of Confronting Images appeared in , it won To escape from this cul-de-sac, Didi-Huberman suggests that art historians look to Georges Didi-Huberman is on the faculty of the &École des hautes &études en. Confronting Images by Georges Didi-Huberman, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.

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The Postanimal after the Posthuman [ pdf ] David L.

Four Photographs From Auschwitz. In fact, one of the most original moves in this very original book is to read Luhmann closely and carefully imahes Derrida. Those occlusions inspire my questions here. As a figure for a certain anti-intellectualism and a fear of difficult knowledge, Luhmann is thus in exceedingly good georgs. Given the ferocious war on thought that characterizes our own neoliberal age, a war waged both within and without the university, the importance of affirming these enormously searching thinkers, these exemplars of slow reading and uncommon sense, could hardly be exaggerated.

Its theoretical registers and cultural locations range from disability studies to cybernetics, and from critical animal studies to avant-garde architectural practices.

Confronting Images

In each case, Wolfe brings out how the distances between humanism and what is imagined, desired, or feared to lie in its wake are as incalculable as they are plural. Interminably complicating the question of what comes after the human is not only the fact that the concept of afterness is itself often up for grabs as Gerhard Richter argues in a brilliant new study 5but also that it is a humanist, all too humanist worry.

Does the future then herald the end of the human or does geirges tell us that the human has still to be determined? What could it mean to have survived humanism and the human? What will it have meant to be human? Or will posthumanism function as a kind of neo-Kantian idea, unrealizable as such, but well-suited to teach us that we never were human?

Lamento – Constructing Duration by Georges Didi-Huberman

These will always have been impossible but necessary questions, but never more so than on the brink of the anthropocene. A Living Memorial to the Holocaustsurrounded by images of excruciating terror, violence, and loss.

Gsorges an animal of the wholly captivated sort that Heidegger imagined. A momentary thoughtlessness, yes, but already supplanted by something else, much harder to understand. Here in the museum, amid the other archival material documenting and contextualizing Jewish life before and after the Holocaust, the film is screened without description of any kind, as if eschewing commentary, or beyond commentary, or its own commentary. How does a building and a memorial institution testify, creating an occasion for the spectator to do the same?

And if the insentient bears witness, is there something insentient about bearing witness? Still from the Liepaja footage showing the Jewish men forced out of a truck by local militia in armbandsoverseen by German soldiers in uniformwith condronting in the background. I struggle to find a language with which to describe its darkness, its luminosity.

It is an eye that never shuts. Do I look through it, seeing as the perpetrators once saw? Or am I caught in its implacable gaze? A by now old diri-huberman, always renewed and didi-huherman, troubles the mind: Fear of answering this question in the affirmative competes with the all but irrepressible imperative to do precisely that. The footage is less than two minutes in length, an eternity without sound.

What I see may not be all that is exhibited. The photographic images are more than corroboration. The reality of a photograph is present to me while I am not present to it.

The word tolls me back to my sole self. The Jewish men are forced out of the back of a truck, hurried through a crowd of onlookers, and into an execution trench. They are commanded to face away from their executioners. There are corpses lying at their feet, the remains of the homicides that the soldiers have committed a little earlier on this bright summer day, although these bodies are obscured from our view.


Many spectators have turned out: In the background are parked cars and bicycles, and a cluster of out-buildings with smokestacks, sheds where the people of Liepaja would socialize and don their skates during the winter months. Beyond the sheds, out of view, lie the sand dunes where thousands of others—Jewish men, women, and children—will subsequently be murdered looking out onto the impassive Baltic Sea.

These quotidian details xidi-huberman with the cnofronting violence that we are about to witness because here, in this killing place, violence has become one of those details. In one continuous motion, a line of soldiers steps quickly up to the lip of the trench. The soldiers point their rifles downward toward the men, and fire. The murdered Jews fall lifelessly to the ground.

The spectators stand frozen, some immobilized by boredom, others possessed by a fascination that is impossible to know. And at the instant that didi-nuberman soldiers shoot their guns and kill these men a little spotted terrier bounds into the foreground of the scene, startled by the retort of the rifles that we cannot hear.

In a rare documentary discussion of the Liepaja footage, David G. Marwell, Holocaust historian and Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, allows himself a series of questions about the errant creature: What was the dog doing on this scene when people were being murdered. Still from Liepaja footage showing the dog in the foreground and the execution trench in the middle-ground.

What is the that that works on or works over Marwell, as confrontinng does me, about which neither one of us appears to know anything? The historian asks questions of the footage for which he knows there are no answers, reminding us of the importance of occupying interrogative spaces with the intention of letting them be.

An unstable constellation of hidden origins, unknown intentions, and obscure effects tease us out of thought. The dog is demonstrably therein the frame, but our glimpse of the creature is strangely clouded: And yet Marwell finds himself responding to it, and feeling its affecting force. The creature is present at the scene of a horrifying crime and yet speaks to Marwell in ways that are not evidentiary. The appearance of the dog is not one ghastly quotidian detail among many, although it is also certainly that.

A non-visibility, let us call it, that limns the humanist and representational distinction between the seen and the unseen, an event looked at and unlooked at. In systems theory nothing is radically unseen in the manner that Sliwinski suggests is important to understanding and responding to photographs of atrocities. What unforeseen event occurs, and is still occurring?

Wolfe persuasively argues that these posthumanist fashionings, mostly recessive and self-cancelling in kind, are less assertions in space than unfoldings in time. The citizens of Hamburg and its visitors were subsequently encouraged to carve their names and comments into the stele, which was lowered into the ground in eight successive stages as its surface filled up with inscriptions.

Confronting Images : Georges Didi-Huberman :

So much conceptual traffic runs across that hyphen, which both links and separates worlds of meaning and histories of public remembrance. Doing justice to those who endured useless suffering at the hands of the fascists is imprescriptible and intergenerational. Moreover, cinfronting Hamburg memorial reminds us that practices of public remembrance themselves call for revisionary labor.

That is to say, we have obligations both to the dead and to the work of reconsidering forms and expressions didi-hubermwn social memory. How to capture this powerful combination of fragility, fluidity, radical indebtedness, and indestructability in a memorial? When the memorial is gone, something extraordinary nevertheless remains: In other words, what is buried instantiates the self-showing of that which cannot be buried.


Is the Museum of Jewish Heritage already in some sense forfeited and spectralized under the atomic light of the Liepaja footage? I do georgfs mean to suggest that SS atrocities which include the atrocities committed by the perpetrators who took photographs of the atrocities are unsayable, unthinkable, or unimaginable.

By screening the Liepaja footage, the museum says quite the opposite, but without thereby making the atrocities and their historical evidence coincident with the said and the thought and the seen. Does the Liepaja footage become the place where the museum stands but in the mode of falling? When didi-hjberman museum trembles, let us insist on building museums rather than leaving them behind. Let us imagine occupying living memorials that threaten to lose us. I am back in the museum, identifiable in name and in spirit as a museum, and thus familiar, but confronted confrontjng the filmed deaths of the Latvian Jewish men, for which there is, strictly speaking, no precedent, no antecedent.

As Maurice Blanchot saw, if long after the fact, it was in the camps that Antelme saw and lived something remarkable: What then can it mean to watch this film and bear witness to the atrocities it records as a humanist and as a post-humanist?

How then to respond to these images? Do we have a language with which to remain answerable not only to their evidentiary status but also to their testamentary force? The question is indissociable from another: Not ours, this death, to take into our bones. Quickly, here are some of my concerns. Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio. Let us be wary of systems and theories of systems that are activated by these extirpating and salvific gestures.

On the basis of determining what is disposable from what is not? Words too have an afterlife, as sovereign as it is unsystematic. Does the gaze extend to the act of witnessing? The ddi-huberman dog urges me to consider the possible points of convergence between that which remains unwitnessed in witnessing and that which remains unknowable about the animal.

That is the disturbance outside of Liepaja that haunts the Nazi present from within the present, so obsessed is it with killing the truth-tellers, and disposing of the witnesses … and thus missing what remains obscurely elemental to the labour of bearing witness.

Toward something standing open, occupiable, toward an addressable you perhaps, towards an addressable reality. The fact that the two worlds are never absolutely two means that we cannot do justice to these images once and for all. What makes witnessing possible is also what renders it impossible.

There is no escaping this crisis of witnessing because witnessing is that crisis. Perhaps it takes an animal speaking in a cofnronting tongue to underscore that no language is adequate to the Shoah, and that we cannot speak of it to the precise extent that we cannot not speak of it.

To this little, nameless dog, this postanimal, now long dead, I send blessings, for in those shocked circles that you run without end, I see. I see, even if I do not understand what I see, or look upon these images as they deserve. I see, as if the for first time, that the opposite of forgetting is not remembrance but—as Yerushalmi has said—the advent of justice.

Blowup of still from the Liepaja footage showing the startled dog.

Widely published in contemporary critical theory, post-Enlightenment philosophy, and Romanticism, he is completing two monographs: