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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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The “Unrepresentable”

The “Unrepresentable”

(p.83) 6 The “Unrepresentable”
Photography, Trace, and Trauma

Margaret Iversen

University of Chicago Press

This chapter is concerned with issues surrounding documentary photography of atrocities and art based on such images. It begins with a critical account of the controversy surrounding the 2001 exhibition in Paris of photographs of Nazi concentration and death camps. Some critics condemned the exhibition for compromising the “unimaginability of the horror of the death camps.” Didi-Huberman’s subsequent book, Images in Spite of All: Four Images from Auschwitz, is an eloquent plea for the exercise our imagination in an effort to represent the ‘unrepresentable’. The horrors of Holocaust and other historical atrocities are imaginable, he argues, if only in a fragmentary way. Critical debates surrounding the work of Gerhard Richter and Christian Boltanski are reassessed in this context.

Keywords:   Christian Boltanski, Georges Didi-Huberman, documentary photography, Holocaust, Gerhard Richter, unrepresentable

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