Worrying about each image interview with Georges Didi-Huberman

Who knows what images can do? Some make people completely stupid, others seem to arouse the life of the spirit, creating a sort of breath which stirs the mind and forces it to question the power of light and chaos. Others console the viewer by enabling him to recognise himself in them, while others fill him with fear and force him to look away and talk about something else. Sometimes the same image fulfils these roles in turn from one moment to another, according to whether or not the viewer knows how to look at them. It thus appears pointless to claim to identify a priori the universal truth of the Image, to denounce it as a sham, transgression, capture, narcissistic isolation, or to praise its incarnation, sublime beauty, value in justifying existence, the vital knot of the real and the symbolic, crushing in each case the singularity of each image beneath this pre-ordained knowledge. It is thus tempting to claim on the contrary that there is no such thing as the Image in general, only sculptures, paintings, films, photographs, and mental images, each requiring its own explanation. This is an ascetic, yet frustrating position, given that we live in a civilisation where the barriers between registers of images, or between registers of images and discourse, are becoming ever more artificial. What is art history for if it doesn’t teach us (above all?) to see today’s reality, to read its images and to let ourselves be struck by that aspect of them which passes our power to see and to read?

We met Georges Didi-Huberman to ask him to help us to escape this double bind. From the Quattrocentro to Hantaï and Penone (or vice versa), from Charcot to Deleuze and Foucault, from Panofsky to Warburg, from angelic beauty to photograms of the Holocaust, his writings reflect a twofold concern: underlining how much we don’t know what images can do, and refusing to renounce expressing what certain particular images can teach us beyond themselves, across the centuries and across the disciplines. This is why his ongoing oeuvre goes beyond all registers. Following Walter Benjamin and Aby Warburg, it is a strangely untimely art history, made of ghosts, survivors, passages, and shifts. It is a philosophy of the image which crosses all fields of knowledge and questions the claims of the concept to make too much of striking images in the name of their essential truth. It is a psychoanalysis of the image which, at the risk of blurring its cardinal distinctions, moves forward into the obscure zone where images and symbols, health and insanity, become indistinguishable. It is a poetics of the image which, following Baudelaire, Bataille, and Blanchot, first requires us to learn to see and describe, while keeping an eye on the external aspect — invisible, unreadable, but never entirely unspeakable. On the horizon, it may also be a politics of the image which finally takes images seriously, trembling as if the better to respect and be haunted by the gestures that produced and inspired them, to set up a fragile barrier against the “monsters” engendered by the indifference to images of reality and their tragic dimension, as well as the “sleep of reason”.

We asked him how he came to develop a project that is both Promethean and modest, which constantly questions itself. He talked to us about heritage and life choices, forks in the road and renewals, honesty and fear, based on ceaseless work. A lesson in wisdom, with and without images.

How and when did you decide to become an art historian? Were you first of all attracted to art itself? If yes, what art in particular, what artists? Was it for Giotto, Fra Angelico, and the Quattrocento from the outset? Or as much for modern and contemporary art, with your relationship to art history enabling you to make unexpected connections, for example between Fra Angelico and Pollock, or Penone and Leonardo da Vinci?

I’m the son of an artist. I used to spend hours in the studio. I watched the paintings as they were painted. I was the assistant and washed the brushes. From a very young age, I loved discussing the work, the process, how problems follow on from each other in a painting. There was also a powerful erotic charge in the studio, with catalogues of drawings, Ingres and Bellmer, Bataille’s Tears of Eros, and so on. I used to go hitchhiking to visit contemporary art galleries in Paris and sculptors’ studios. As a teenager, I often worked at the Museum of Modern Art in Saint-Etienne, helping in the archives and with hanging pictures for exhibitions, and trying my hand at guided visits — always very lively — with an audience that was generally very suspicious of any art later than Cézanne. So the native element, as you might say, is contemporary art, in other words the art of each present instant, art as a question that is constantly being asked. I only became interested in medieval and Renaissance art when I had a concrete experience of it when I spent four or five years in Italy much later. But, there again, faced with Fra Angelico’s “splodges”, for example, the questions how is it done? How is the question asked? came before the questions who did it? or what does it mean? That’s why I have the impression that I have learned more from the artists themselves — my dialogue with them has always been ongoing — than from historians.

Since your direct experience of certain works of art, could you specify the role that you try to fulfil? Both in the field of art history and of aesthetics, since you support your analyses by drawing on a range of disciplines — philosophy, psychoanalysis, poetics, anthropology, and so on.

But of course I’m the last person to be able to find my place and define my own status... It would be better to question the necessity of this displacement than the legitimacy of the place. I could probably describe such and such a concrete experience: the numerous difficulties, and even polemics, with the French university system, the frequent feeling of being misunderstood in the English-speaking world, the extraordinary reception in the German-speaking world, the ongoing dialogue with philosophers and men of letters, the absence of dialogue with all too many historians, even though they share my interests... Beyond these personal controversies, I think it is simply a global problem of intellectual history. What place do we want to give to philosophical thought, psychoanalytical investigation, and even poetical questioning in the field of disciplines that we now call human sciences? I simply believe that it is impossible to talk seriously about images, to say something about art, without linking our experience to three things — a way of asking questions, a way of bringing into the equation the desire to feel, see, and know, and a way of writing it all down. Art history does not exist completely without a theoretical position, a psychological position, and a poetical position regarding the object it is working on.

Could you tell us more about the importance of the notion of experience for you? Pretty exactly like Benjamin, but also like Foucault, experience seems for you to be both fundamental and ill-defined — it is both a question of experience in its broadest sense (seeing an image), a phenomenological experience (an image which strikes us), and an inward experience or an experience of limits as sought by Bataille and Blanchot. In short, what does “experiencing an image” mean for you?

I’m going to take your question literally and say that the experience of an image is exactly everything you have just said, but in one fell swoop, one single experience... It’s a common experience because seeing an image is one of our commonest actions. I flick through a history book and in it are pictures, some of which are new and some of which I already know. Suddenly, my experience becomes phenomenological in the way you describe: an image that I thought I knew already — for example the picture of the German soldier shooting a mother holding her child in her arms at point-blank range — jumps out at me, grips me in its cruelty, opens in me a new mystery and a major anxiety, which is initially the anxiety of the contact between this image and reality, the contact between image and body, image and history, image and politics...

Once this image is no longer looked at as stereotypical imagery, as an illustrative vignette stuck in the book or a simple “icon of horror”, but rather as a singular visual situation, it becomes the experience of limits or inner experience described by Georges Bataille. It’s no coincidence that Bataille himself recognised that images have the power not to console us, but, on the contrary, to create anxiety in us, to “open” us, to make us “bleed inwardly”, as he said. All my choices of objects have been made necessary by an such an experience, an opening experience that has been unexpected (irreducible to a research programme) and disquieting (irreducible to knowledge or a system). Of course, the experience must be upheld, contextualised, historicised, theorised. But I know that in the end, the image will remain there, irreducible, in front of me. Neither knowledge (as many historians think) nor the concept (as many philosophers think) will ever quite grasp it, subsume it, resolve it, or redeem it. The image passes us by. We have to follow its movement as far as possible, but we must also accept that we can never entirely possess it. That also means that images — doubtless not just any image, I only mean images that I would describe as fertile — are inexhaustible. And that is also why images are now part of our relationship with experience (often for worse, in other words as a delusion, sometimes for better, for the renewed involvement of reality, beyond all the pessimistic predictions of the destruction of experience and the generalisation of pretence.

At the end of your short book on James Turrell, L’Homme qui marchait dans la couleur, you attribute a real morality lesson to Plato, no doubt fairly and generously — “Leave broken in front of each work the way of thinking that was ours just before we let our gaze rest upon it”. Yet this gives rise to an enigma. Does this mean that every thought is broken from the outset and that the real image is there simply to reveal the crack or the fissure that has been there all along?

To be honest, I don’t remember that sentence and I don’t remember the context. But I’m sure you’re right. I probably meant to say that the image cannot be reduced to the concept as Panofskian iconology and the neo-Kantian tendency in structuralist art history have tried to do. But this did not mean saying that the image is the crucible of an irrationality that is “sacred”, unnameable, sublime, or whatever. You cannot go forward by opposing sensibility and intelligibility with all your might. Neither can you go forward by seeking an abstract solution that integrates sensibility into intelligibility, like Kant tried with his famous transcendental schematism which calms so many worries when faced with the world of experience... So let’s describe an experience. I am looking at a painting by Hantaï. Then I understand how fertile the distinction between moulding and modulation — found in the works of Gilbert Simondon and then Deleuze — can be in exploring the method invented by this artist. But soon I notice that Hantaï’s painting makes this distinction shift, deconstructing it, one might say, because his “mouldings” are also capable of “modulating” in colour. That is the rhythm of this approach. The concept helps me to look, then my gaze helps me in turn to criticise and modify the concept and take it in a new direction. I only work on singularities (I have nothing to say on art, beauty, and so on as general topics) inasmuch as singularities have the theoretical power to alter our preconceived ideas, and thus to engage our power of thought non-axiomatically, heuristically.

I would also add that my use of philosophy is as necessary as it is irrelevant. Why irrelevant? My problem has never been locating myself within the history of aesthetic systems, for example. I don’t discuss philosophical texts to determine their value of general truth; I use philosophical texts to discuss a particular image. If it is the case that an image, even armed with concepts, leaves our thought “broken in front of each work”, we must admit that philosophical explanations only give us part of the means capable of facing up to an image. For me it is of capital importance that many fundamental texts on art were written by poets and writers (in France, from Diderot to Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Genet, Proust, and Beckett). That is why the text on Turrell that you referred to is not a philosophical explanation, but a philosophical fable, which is very different. For a long time, before I began a text on an image, I re-read Baudelaire, as if I were trying to find in his poetic language, in his sumptuous Rockets, the literary energy to describe — simply to describe — an image. To this day, on my bookshelves, I keep right next to the philosophy books a section of texts that I call heterological, in reference to Georges Bataille. It includes authors that are probably the most precious to me, who are both great thinkers and non-academic philosophers (above all Bataille, as well as Baudelaire, Benjamin, Eisenstein, Carl Einstein, Maurice Blanchot, and a few others). Only poetical writing can produce thought while leaving it “broken in front of each work”.

Forgive me for wording this question a little bluntly: what is your real relationship with politics? It’s a blunt question, but not at all ironic, because it seems that your relationship with the public arena and the question of social relations in general is extremely subtle, but as a result hard to read at first glance. On the one hand, unlike most “classic” art historians, your work seems largely determined by eminently political motifs, from your early works on hysteria and the plague in the medieval imagination to your more recent work on the images of the Holocaust. But on the other hand, you always seem to stop on the margins of activism, both for reasons like Foucault — not wanting to confiscate the words and images of those who suffer or act — and for more unspoken reasons. Can you tell us a little more about these apparently unspoken issues?

A blunt question deserves a blunt answer: you can only make a difference where you really work, in other words where the work itself makes it possible for you to become involved efficiently in a given field. I am not trying to make excuses, but I am aware of my limits when I say that I don’t really feel capable of signing petitions on issues of which I only have second-hand knowledge, or of becoming involved in concrete, complex political issues such as the situation in Kosovo, for example. But I will probably have something to say on the Kosovo Pietà photographed in 1990 by Georges Mérillon, in that it is an image that I am currently working on. What I have to say will be published and will thus be in the public arena, and I will of course be obliged to take a stand on an eminently political issue, because Mérillon’s picture is a clear example of today’s political use of the iconography of suffering. But I definitely feel incapable of having an “authorised” opinion — an intellectual who authorises himself to speak out in public “authorises” what he says — on all the issues of the day. The intellectual elite is used to having something intelligent to say about everything, having an opinion on everything, even on things they know little about, for example in entrance examinations such as the one for the Ecole Normale Supérieure. I don’t have that education or that ability.

To answer your question better, I must in fact go a bit further back. Looking at an image is a contemplative act. You do it in an archive, a museum, a library, an artist’s studio, a bedroom. I feel as if I spent my childhood in a world of images, basically in a world cut off from action. I was fifteen in May 1968, all my closest friends were occupying the high school and demonstrating in the streets, and I sadly watched events from my window, not saying a word, trying to make up my own mind. I think that this chasm was caused simply by fear. Images can set us apart from action, but they place us right in the heart of fear. Or at least they underline, draw, and accentuate fear. I talked to you about my father’s studio — a place of art, beauty, consolation, and the erotic dimension of images. But that was only half of my experience. The other half, which literally “broke” the first, was in my mother’s books — all the images of war, the images of the camps that I saw time and time again in the difficulty of understanding them, in a propaedeutics of historical horror, in the absolute opposite of beauty, in the inconsolability and bereavement of these images.

It seems to me that this tension already opens a political dimension in the image. What I referred to as the opening experience and the anxiety of the contact between the image and reality, is in the end nothing but an accession to the political dimension of images, or at the very least their historical dimension — their role as witnesses, or even instruments, in acts of great political violence. It took me a long while to understand that. A philosopher friend who was reading Before Time pointed out to me that my comments on Benjamin “forgot” the famous passage on the destruction of clocks by the revolutionaries, although I describe — pretty autobiographically, as it happens — the Baudelairian child who methodically breaks the family watch, alone in his bedroom. So I was surprised when another friend, a filmmaker, described Before the Image to me as a political book. I have long understood how much the epistemological structure of the field of art history, which appears to be so far removed from the most urgent social issues, could only be thought in relation to the historic upheavals of the twentieth century. If our way of looking at art today depends greatly on Erwin Panofsky’s superb work, we must understand that it depends on a thinker who was forced into exile by the Nazis and who emigrated to the English-speaking world, with all that that implies in terms of uprooting and renunciation, beginning with the renunciation of the mother tongue.

So now if we have to go back from Panofski’s adaptations and repressions to Aby Warburg’s more genius, and more psychotic, intuitions, we must understand how, by throwing our models of temporality into chaos and excavating the unconscious memory of images, Warburg ended up inventing a new field of study, political iconology, which we see at work in his 1918-1920 studies on propaganda engravings from the time of Luther or in the last illustrations in his atlas Mnemosyne, devoted to the 1929 Concordat, the papal theocracy and anti-Semitism. Warburg’s best German students, in Hamburg and elsewhere, have laid great emphasis on this kind of political analysis of images. I am thinking particularly of Martin Warnke, Horst Bredekamp, Michael Diers, Charlotte Schoell-Glass, Gerhard Wolf, or, in a different context, Sigried Weigel. Furthermore, it is clear that thinkers such as Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, and Carl Einstein — not forgetting Adorno, and, later, Guy Debord, Chris Marker, and Jean-Luc Godard — played a decisive role in this political approach to the image.

These days, everyone seems to agree that images are at the heart of our culture, in our acts of barbarity or, in any case, our political apparatus. So thinking about images leads to an awareness of the situation, and that is why the further on I get, the more important the Goya of the Disasters of War — who must be considered in conjunction with the Goya of the House of the Deaf Man — becomes, and the more I am drawn to contemporary artists who deal with the question of history, such as Sigmar Polke, Robert Morris, Alfredo Jaar, Pascal Convert, Sophie Ristelhueber, or Harun Farocki. Today more than ever, images are major political tools. Their efficacy appears ever more immediate. So we must urgently develop a critical eye for images — an attitude that is neither unquestioning acceptance nor obstinate refusal (and here I am thinking of the polemic caused by Images despite all). Once again, we must work in the concrete dimension of singularities.

There is no ontology to be done on what is an image. To talk about “the image” is to think metaphysically, whatever you do. There are only images in general, there is only each image understood in relation with others. To return to Lacan’s thought, written for Heidegger, that “metaphysics has never been anything and cannot extend itself except by keeping itself busy plugging the hole of politics”, as far as I am concerned, an image can function alternatively, according to its use value, as a metaphysical stopgap or as a political gap in the texture of discourses in use in society. Nineteenth-century Sulpician iconography is a metaphysical stopgap in history (particularly that of the Commune), while Goya’s Disasters are a political gap in the culture of his day. That is why no collection of his engravings could be published during his lifetime.

There may be a dual aspect in every image, or rather, a dual regime (I use the term in a functional rather than epochal sense, like Rancière) — stopgap and gap, veil and rip in the veil, sublimation and de-sublimation. Each time, the idea is to question the dimension of repression in the image and the dimension of the resurgence of the repressed, or, in other words, that which results from the powers of the imagination and that which arises from the incursion of reality.

You are one of the most prolific art historians, and even scholars in general. How do you write? Do you work on several texts in parallel (like for your Fra Angelico and Before the Image), each acting as counterpoint to the other? Or is it always one after the other? And following an overall project? Or rather according to the various commissions you are given? Or a subtle dialectic of the two? But then, how can you dialectise a project of thinking and writing?

I am only prolific in relation to the current situation — it seems to me that this is a political subject par excellence — which overall aims to censor, slow down, channel, divert, or prevent free thinking and knowledge. What is at stake here is the very structure of the university system as a work environment. Are you a young researcher? The whole system is geared to preventing you from working. Door after door is closed in your face, you find it hard to get published, you are made to wait, and you have to carry out ancillary tasks in the vague hope of getting a job. Are you an experienced researcher? Everything is still geared to prevent you from working. You are given pseudo-powers, administrative tasks, you are asked to take part in juries, you are invited to conferences, you read manuscripts, you are invited to chair commissions in exchange for the vague promise of a job for your students. And so on. So my initial answer to your question is first, I am prolific because I have so many things to say; I have more than enough book projects for an average life span. Secondly, I am prolific because I have time to be so. How do I manage? First of all, I’m fortunate enough to work for the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, whose role is teaching research, the key point being whether this role can withstand the university system I was talking about. Then I have turned an institutional misfortune — failing the habilitation three times — into a condition of intellectual freedom. I followed Gilles Deleuze’s advice, choosing between power and potency. Many people want both, but it is not possible all along the line. I don’t think I have power over anybody, and power takes a lot of time. I have no-one to judge. I have no car and no mobile phone. I hate interminable email exchanges. I don’t organise anything or direct anything. I am happy just to do what I do least badly or, rather, what I find the most pleasure in doing. I know how to say no, even to what other people would call illustrious proposals, if I run the risk of losing my focus.

Being prolific comes from two things, construction and pleasure. Like everyone else, I have developed my own personal method, based on hand-written cards, whose sole virtue is simplicity, mobility, the chance of working simultaneously both in the order of knowledge (where patience is a virtue) and the order of free association (where irrelevance and play are virtues). A text is always a result or a combination of these two dimensions in the same rhythm. I use the term rhythm because art history is above all a literary discipline. It all begins with an exercise of description or ekphrasis. It’s all a question of style, and therefore of giving the material a rhythm. I work simultaneously on different literary genres. There are major projects which stretch over many years, short texts like “rockets”, intermediary forms, and so on. The main thing is to have time to yourself, in other words freedom to follow tangential new developments and take much more time than anticipated on a question that initially appeared minor. I try to tell all the students I talk to that the fundamental question is not that of their career but of the construction of the conditions of freedom. It’s obviously a struggle. So it’s a political question — how can we construct the concrete possibility of a gay science?

Now for an impromptu question. Because your footnotes are so prolific (I am thinking particularly of The Surviving Image, about which you have said you removed 200 pages of notes, and which still contains 677) and have such a multiplicity of registers, they end up becoming extremely enigmatic, at least for naive readers like me. What is your relationship to footnotes? Is it a way of accepting the rules of erudition because there is no other, because basic honesty makes them a necessity? Or on the contrary, overplaying it? Or is it a way of underpinning and protecting the most heterodox ideas by the most authorised knowledge? Or on the contrary of making knowledge digress into zones where it is least expected? Or of punctuating your texts, like the way Spinoza produced scholia which were supposed to comment on his propositions but which in fact implied a whole new register of thought? Or all that at the same time? Or something else entirely?

Well, your questions shows that in fact you are not a naive reader. On the other hand, maybe because you are a philosopher, you aren’t really used to the scholarly writings naturally produced by a field like art history. A proliferation of notes is typical in German art history. In Warburg’s Gesammelte Schriften, there are many more notes than there is text, just like in a book like Panofsky’s Idea. There were so many notes in The Surviving Image because the book emanated from the tool Warburg himself offered to his reader, in other words — apart from his own published texts, his interminable notes and his myriad of unpublished manuscripts — his magical library. My notes initially functioned as a mimetic imitation of Warburg’s model of rhizomatic knowledge. But it is true that often, footnotes in art history act as plugs filling the gap of an absence of problematisation, as if the scholar refused to make his mind up or stand by his point of view. The great Viennese art historian Julius von Schlosser said that art history is a philological discipline which must use its knowledge to ask philosophical questions. Slowness and footnotes are part of all philological activity, and there is a risk and a certain energy to the text — and this has been very clear since Nietzsche — in all philosophical activity. You must therefore learn to combine the two.

You are doubtless also right when you describe footnotes as a sort of civilised way of transmitting a rather new idea, as a way of “protecting the most heterodox ideas by the most authorised knowledge”. This attitude says, I am putting forward this surprising hypothesis, not because I don’t know, but rather because I do know. At the same time, all that is much less complicated and much less paranoid than you suggest. Footnotes are simply, as you say, honesty in the transmission of knowledge. It gives the reader the chance to follow the same path on his own account, in other words to perhaps diverge in his understanding of the sources. As a student, I was dazzled by the beauty of Michel Foucault’s writing, the fluidity of his thought, and the impossibility of interrupting his reasoning to quote just part of it. Then I wanted to follow certain paths he had taken in his thinking and I was stuck when he wrote “Esquirol says this or that” without saying where he says it or even exactly how he says it. In a sense, a text without notes is much more authoritative, or even much less generous (I don’t mean in Foucault’s case), than a text with footnotes.

The great mistake would be to postulate that theory is an end to which knowledge is but a means. There are forms of knowledge that simply plug gaps, of course. These are what we might call the positivist scholar’s portable metaphysics. He believes that precision will be the basis for the truth of what he says. But of course, other strategies of knowledge are equally possible — open knowledge, gay science, bears within itself an extraordinary capacity for theoretical invention and subversion. Knowledge — and bear in mind Walter Benjamin or Georges Bataille’s astonishing erudition — knows how to burrow holes in the conformism of ready-made theories. As you so rightly say, an erudite footnote acts as punctuation, as a scholium, and above all as a digression. You see in the notes how a thought is constructed, how the theoretical montage takes place. You see in the notes a field of possibilities, a series of forks in the road where the text, which is in general more narrative and oriented, refuses to halt.

One final question. In Before the Image, you define the world of images as the entirety of the aporias that arise in the world of knowledge. From this point of view, have you ever come across an image that grabs you without you being able to link the slightest discourse to it? Images that have only given rise to intuitions that are significant yet empty, or unpublishable texts? In other words, in a sense, your readers only know the history of your great achievements... is there a more hidden or unacknowledged history of your failures? This question also takes on particular meaning with regard to one of your major theses, according to which the image is above all “that which resists discourse”. So, have you ever met with absolute or unassailable resistance?

It is a magnificent question, but how can I respond if I take your meaning literally? To say that an image is “above all that which resists discourse” means that you shouldn’t stop at the “above all”. As Bataille said, all questions are a question of time and how you use that time. So I will say that the images that have grabbed me, as you so rightly put it, have only done so by creating a moment of muteness in my pre-existing discourses. A powerful image is above all one which strikes you. When I say “powerful”, I don’t mean “violently spectacular”, of course: a Vermeer painting of a young woman in a turban turning gently towards you strikes dumb all your possibilities of talking about painting. But you cannot stop at this moment of muteness, unless you develop a theory of the unspeakability which I would describe as metaphysical laziness. Neither can you rely solely on the world of discourse. Doing so — which philosophers who talk about art generally do — sets us up for the risk of illustrating our discourse with images, rather than confronting our words with them.

Writing about images means above all writing. It means expressing in spite of everything that which initially appears to be an experience of the inexpressible. It is writing the inexpressible, or something based on it, while preserving it, and knowing how to write that one is preserving it. It means finding all of one’s energy in the act of writing itself, opening the poetical and philosophical possibilities of drawing something — a word, a text, a particular style which would describe this particular image — from an initial muteness. This takes a kind of courage — the courage to look and look again, the courage to write, and to write on in spite of everything. It goes without saying that the images of Auschwitz I worked on represented for many years the “unassailable” or “unspeakable” that you mention. I got through it by preferring to look elsewhere and exclaiming che bello! at the splendours of the Italian Renaissance. It took the insistence of Clément Chéroux, the curator of the exhibition Mémoire des camps, to give me the courage to confront these images, and to spend time on them initially (which meant leaving behind all my usual objects of study and pleasure for an indefinite period and with no guarantee of a result). What I wrote about them obviously only constitutes a partial contribution to our knowledge of them. These images still retain all their power to shock us, in other words, to create new ways of talking and thinking.

I mentioned a while back about my hesitations as regards the notion of the ontology of the image. So there are no images which would, as such, leave us mute and powerless. An image about which one can say nothing is in general an image which one has not taken the time to look at attentively. But this time is long, and I will say it again, it takes courage. You have to take the time to relive the anxiety anew each time.


Brief bibliography
Georges Didi-Huberman has published more than thirty works, including Fra Angelico. Dissemblance et figuration (Flammarion, 1990), Devant l’image (Minuit, 1990), L’image survivante. Histoire de l’art et temps des fantômes selon Aby Warburg (Minuit, 2002), and Images malgré tout (Minuit, 2003) on the photograms torn from the hell of the Holocaust. Also worthy of note is a collective work on his thought and writings published by Minuit (with Laurent Zimmerman and Arnaud Zykner) entitled Penser par les images: Autour des travaux de G. Didi-Huberman (éd. Cécile Defaut). In 2006, Minuit published Le danseur des solitudes. Three works by Georges Didi-Huberman are forthcoming : Ex-voto. Image, organe, temps (Bayard, this coming autumn), L’image ouverte (Gallimard), and a new edition of Mémorandum de la peste (Christian Bourgois).