Steve McQueen Queen and Country, 2007–2009, installation view, Manchester Central Library, 2007.
Photo : courtesy of the artist & Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

When Images Take a Position: Didi-Huberman’s Brechtian Intervention

Chari Larsson
What does it mean to take a position? How is this different from taking sides? French art historian and philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman deployed the phrase in conjunction with his discussion of German playwright and theorist Bertolt Brecht in his 2009 Quand les images prennent position [When images take a position].1 1 - Georges Didi-Huberman, Quand les images prennent position, vol. 1, L’Œil de l’histoire (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 2009).

Didi-Huberman’s concern with the political efficacy of images brings his work into dialogue with debates concerning the relationship between images and politics in the wake of 9/11. Footage of the World Trade Center attacks, photographs from Abu Ghraib, and, more recently, the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris have renewed critical discussions concerning the power of images to shape realities. How is it possible for images to represent events that no longer have meaning, through either media overexposure or sheer lack of visibility in public consciousness? What lessons does Didi-Huberman’s retrieval of the ambitions of the historical avant-garde hold for contemporary artists and theorists? How may a politically engaged artist take a position?

You must have a valid Digital or Premium subscription to access this content

Subscribe to Esse now to read the full text!

This article also appears in the issue 85 – Taking a Stance - Taking a Stance

Suggested Reading