At the limit of visual historiography: Georges Didi-Huberman’s Bark

Bowman, Matthew (2019) At the limit of visual historiography: Georges Didi-Huberman’s Bark. In: "Art History in the Expanded Field" at Annual Association of Art Historians Conference, April 2019, Brighton. (Unpublished)

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Since the 1990s, the French art historian and philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman has been engaged in a major intellectual project that simultaneously re-reads early twentieth century German historiography as well as seeking to comprehend how artworks produce significance and temporal complexity. The writings of esteemed thinkers such as Aby Warburg, Walter Benjamin, and Bertolt Brecht, their theorization of montage and constellational strategies, have been plumbed by Didi-Huberman in order to comprehend the generative power of artworks, the ways that they actively prefigure and determine their historical accounting and interpretations.
While art-historiographical reflection is central to most of his works, perhaps his most emblematic work in this regard is a short book titled Bark. Originally published in France in 2011, Bark is comprised of personal recollections concerning the murder of his grandparents at Auschwitz-Birkenau and photographs he has taken whilst visiting the former concentration camp. However, Bark, is more than a family narrative; it also constitutes an extension or postscript to Didi-Huberman’s Images in Spite of All in which a small group of group of surreptitiously-taken photographs evidence the burning of corpses at Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the heart of both books is a question of whether the traumatic immensity of the Holocaust can be expressed at all by means of photographic and textual representation.
This paper will examine Didi-Huberman’s Bark, its interplay of photography and text, as a photobook or photo-essay, in light of its contribution to historiographical cognition. It aims to demonstrate how—following the examples of Warburg, Benjamin, Brecht, and indeed Adorno—for Didi-Huberman art history is less writing about images than the production of representations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: art, philosophy, arty history
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Bowman
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2020 15:01
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 15:01

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