Jennifer Wild on Radical Recognition: The Communal Image
In this lecture, Jennifer Wild (University of Chicago), will discuss image-making "from below" in the context of revolution, insurrection and technological change
This talk is part of my new research and book project, Radical Recognition: Photography, Film, and History in the Image, which offers a set of case studies that comprise a genealogy of technological and artistic practices related to revolution, insurrection, and the avant-garde in France. In each case study I begin with a single, still image, asking how it—and images more broadly—generate new historical insight and consciousness? Are images capable of desubjugating the histories that have been suppressed by official historical narratives and historiographic approaches? How have artists, photographers, and filmmakers used the image in order to make visible what Foucault calls “subjugated knowledges,” or stratum that is at once concretely historical but also conceptual, naïve, marginal, emerging “from below?”
I use photographs taken during the Paris Commune of 1871 to answer some of these questions. In reassessing iconic photographs of the Communard’s barricades alongside portraits taken of Communards imprisoned at Versailles, I suggest that what I call the “communal image” comes into view. It emerges in how the Communards understood the signifying regime of photographic images from a vantage point other than one tethered to a conventional view of the relationship between power and representation. As the name suggests, the communal image does not discriminate. Arising into the field of visibility, it invites everyone to participate not simply in the act of seeing, but of recognizing the “insurrection of subjugated knowledges” that can only erupt outside of existing social and signifying regimes.
Jennifer Wild is Associate Professor in the Departments of Cinema and Media Studies, and Romance Languages and Literatures, at the University of Chicago. She specializes in French visual and cultural history; the history and theory of the avant-garde; feminist and political aesthetics and film and art practices. Her scholarship demonstrates a commitment to developing new historiographic approaches to visual, cultural, and perceptual phenomena, often emphasizing the interaction between material and conceptual forms of historical knowledge especially as they are generated in film, art, and the so-called “aesthetic experience.” Her first book, The Parisian Avant-Garde in the Age of Cinema (University of California Press, 2015) was shortlisted for the Best Moving Image Book Award by the Shortlist, Kraszna-Krausz Foundation, and received Honorary Mention for the Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies. She is currently completing a book manuscript that reconsiders the stakes of the image in key moments in French social, political, cinematic, and artistic history (1871-1999): Radical Recognition: Photography, Film and History in the Image.
The lecture open to everyone!