Category Archives: Criticism

Jacoby on Narcissism

“What lurks behind the critique of narcissism is the authority of the “classic” bourgeois family; this family and the authoritarian family diverge in their social composition. It does not seem fortuitous that Marx’s example is drawn from the “lower mercantile… Continue reading

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One off: Alec Soth.

“NIAGARA is more a circular journey than a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Its voice is first person, present. Its story is told in the words of the photographer’s subjects. Its conclusion is like its start: a closed… Continue reading

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Stallabrass on Dijkstra

“This constitutes the terrible plausibility of these images, and part of the basis for their success: they do describe and also enact a world in which people are socially atomized, politically weak, and are governed by their place in the… Continue reading

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Wallis on Race and Typological Photography

“By supplying an overabundance of information, photography confuses and problematizes its message; it creates what author Roland Barthes calls a “reality effect,” a semblance of realism bound to detail. In nineteenth-century parlance, two technical words gained a certain currency to describe how “reality”was construed: the word daguerreotype was distinguished from the word stereotype. Stereotypes were originally molds for creating multiple copies of printing type; the word, therefore, came to connote generalized replication. The daguerreotype, on the… Continue reading

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Foster on the Primitive

“Historically, the primitive is articulated by the west in deprivative or supplemental terms: as a spectacle of savagery or as a state of grace, as a socius without writing or the Word, history or cultural complexity or as a site… Continue reading

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Enwezor on Simpson, the American Sublime and the Racial Self

“There is in ‘the mythology of madness’ the oft repeated story of radical therapy effect by Phillipe Pinel when he released the madmen and madwomen from their chains in Bicêtre and Salpêtrière hospitals in Paris in 1794. Pinel’s freeing of… Continue reading

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Ricoeur on Plurality, Culture and The Other

“When we discover that there are several cultures instead of just one and consequently at the time when we acknowledge the end of a sort of cultural monopoly, be it illusory or real, we are threatened with the destruction of… Continue reading

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Rice on Secular (Consumerist) Culture

“Unlike Vodou worshippers in Haiti, we in contemporary America acknowledge no deities; we deny a pantheon of supernatural beings who determine our destinies, who have the power to “possess” our bodies or intervene in our lives. In our denial, we… Continue reading

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Solnit on the Desert

“The Holy Land belongs to the chosen people, but they have no talent for staying in it peacefully and are always shifting, struggling, splitting up, being cast out. For them the desert is an ambiguous zone: a place strangers, sinners,… Continue reading

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James on the typological work of the Bechers

“The Bechers’ rejection of the ideological and their refusal to depict the subject can be understood as a strategic refusal to participate in the photographic reification and ruin of subjectivity. Their reluctance to exert their artistic subjectivity, or to portray… Continue reading

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