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Photography, Trace, and Trauma$
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Margaret Iversen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226370026

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226370330.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Exposure
Photography, Trace, and Trauma

Margaret Iversen

University of Chicago Press

A traumatic theory of photography is developed in this chapter. It is established that Freud’s model of memory and trauma lie behind Walter Benjamin’s influential description of early photography as ‘seared by reality.’ A brief discussion of Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida is followed by an account of Eric L. Santner’s On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald (2006) which is an important source for the key concept of ‘exposure’ in both its photographic and psychic senses. Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Chantal Akerman are offered as examples of artists attuned to this double sense of exposure.

Keywords:   Chantal Akerman, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, exposure, Sigmund Freud, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, photography, Eric L. Santner, W. G. Sebald, trauma

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