Figures of History
Figures of History
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In this important new book the leading philosopher Jacques Rancière continues his reflections on the representative power of works of art. How does art render events that have spanned an era? What roles does it assign to those who enacted them or those who were the victims of such events?
Rancière considers these questions in relation to the works of Claude Lanzmann, Goya, Manet, Kandinsky and Barnett Newman, among others, and demonstrates that these issues are not only confined to the spectator but have greater ramifications for the history of art itself.
For Rancière, every image, in what it shows and what it hides, says something about what it is permissible to show and what must be hidden in any given place and time. Indeed the image, in its act of showing and hiding, can reopen debates that the official historical record had supposedly determined once and for all. He argues that representing the past can imprison history, but it can also liberate its true meaning.
Table of Contents Title page Copyright page Dedication Note on the text Part 1: The Unforgettable 1: In front of the camera lens 2: Behind the window 3: The threshold of the visible 4: In the face of disappearance Part 2: Senses and Figures of History 1: Of four senses of history 2: History and representation: three poetics of modernity 3: On three forms of history painting Films cited First published in French as Figures de l'histoire � Presses Universitaires de France, 2012 This
sequential arrangement, of the voice that utters them, the body behind that voice, and the images that correspond to them. The fiction in Drancy Avenir is constructed in exemplary fashion as the very construction of the link between an idea of history and a certain power of art. This assumes nothing less than the sequential linking of three levels of fiction. At the first level lies the ‘realist’ fiction of a history lesson, in which a historian has someone read out to his students eyewitness
a new genre that mark an age of history and take the pulse of a civilization by placing modern characters in settings from Antiquity or virgins from Antiquity in front of railway stations in Flemish squares. Illustrators of Oswald Spengler such as Carel Willinck, readers of the classics on dreaming, from Salvador Dali to André Masson and Hans Bellmer, witnesses for the prosecution in the collapse of democracy in Germany, from Dix and Grosz to Nussbaum and Hofer – all paint what we might call,
ago, in the days of history painting, people painted images of the great and their deeds. Of course the hordes and humble people could be in the picture, too. It would be hard to conceive of a general without troops or a king without subjects. Occasionally, the hero would address them. Occasionally, the roles might actually be reversed and the old soldier, in great distress at the sight, would recognize his general, the Byzantine General Belisarius, in the beggar crouching at his feet. But there
that, in spite of everything, the candid eye of the camera sees only what it is ordered to see. If the Allies didn't notice the concentration camps, despite the camps being perfectly ‘visible’ in the aerial photographs the Allies scanned for industrial installations to bomb, this is also because the cinematographic window of the visible is itself, to start with, a frame that excludes. Or rather, it is the threshold between what is, and what is not, interesting to see (Workers Leaving the