Towards a new image of politics: Chris Marker's staring back

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This essay analyzes Chris Marker's recent exhibition and book of photographs Staring Back. This project joined together black and white photographs of political demonstrations from the 1960s to the present and portraits from Marker's oeuvre. Some of the images are actual photographs and some were extracted from Marker's film and video footage and altered digitally using Photoshop and Painter. The first part of the essay focuses on the way the 'people' are represented in these images in relation to current political philosophy, mainly the writings of Étienne Balibar, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Rancière, and Gilles Deleuze's cinema books. The second part is concerned with individual portraits and the face in relation to Deleuze's concept of the 'affection image' and the cinematic close-up. The essay argues that what unites these two groups of images is an epistemological and political move beyond identity. On the one hand these images suggest 'a new politics of the image' because they indicate that 'virtuality' is not simply the outcome of the technological digital revolution in image production in which the indexical status of analogical photography is eliminated, but of a different way of thinking and making visual images beyond what Deleuze calls 'representation,' a form of thought that is based on notions of resemblance, truth, and identity. On the other hand they offer 'a new image of the people' because they show that in the current age politics can only exist beyond the realm of identities, precisely in the possibility, as Balibar argues, of creating transnational forms of citizenship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-101+123
JournalOxford Art Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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