<p>Cover artwork: from <em>Spectres</em> (2011) by Sven Augustijnen, courtesy of the artist</p>
<p>Cover artwork: from <em>Spectres</em> (2011) by Sven Augustijnen, courtesy of the artist</p>

No. 18: Phantom Histories

Managing editors: Katarzyna Bojarska, Krzysztof Pijarski

Cover artwork: from Spectres (2011) by Sven Augustijnen, courtesy of the artist

This issue was supported by the Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education, from the funds of the program for the popularization of scholarship in 2017; created in collaboration with Bunkier Sztuki Gallery, and with the support of the Creative Europe program of the European Union.

Table of Contents


  1. Phantom Histories

    ”Phantom Histories”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/phantom-histories1

    This is the introduction to the issue entitled Phantom Histories.


  1. A Future of History according to Fiona Tan

    Katarzyna Bojarska, ” A Future of History according to Fiona Tan”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/a-future-of-history-according-to-fiona-tan

    Based on several works by the Dutch artist Fiona Tan, the author analyses dominant threads in her work associated with one's implication in traumatic histories, conflicts and crisis. Puting forth a comparative reading of two film works (20 years apart): a television documentary and a feature film, the author discusses aesthetic, political and historical stakes of Tan.

  2. Specters of Colonialism - Sven Augustijnen's Haunted Cinema

    Andrzej Marzec, ” Specters of Colonialism - Sven Augustijnen's Haunted Cinema”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/specters-of-colonialism-sven-augustijnens-haunted-cinema

    The author analyzes Sven Agustijnen's Specters from the philosophical perspective. He tries to prove that the cinema of Belgian director is haunted because it presents the reality as made out of traces, which disturb the traditional division into presence and absence. The author analyzes the Augustijnen's film techniques and uses Jacques Derrida hauntology to show, how contemporary cinema tries to face the difficult and unfinished colonial history of Belgium (the genocide in Congo during the reign of the Belgian king Leopold II and the murder of the first prime minister of the
    independent Congo, Patrice  Lumumba).

  3. Post-witness, counter-bystander and the (unclaimed) experience

    Roma Sendyka, ”Post-witness, counter-bystander and the (unclaimed) experience”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/post-witness-counter-bystander-and-the-unclaimed-experience

    Selected videos by Mirosaw Bałka are discussed within the theoretical frame of witnessing and post-witnessing. The concepts of bystander, counterpublic witness and implicated subject allow to understand the artist’s ste andpoint toward Holocaust bystanders in Poland. Localized experience of the past violence is analyzed in the article in relation to trauma theory but trauma is understood here beyond individual level, as a shared, cultural and social experience.

  4. Beyond Projection. History and Empathy in the films by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi

    Paweł Mościcki, ” Beyond Projection. ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/beyond-projection

    The articles refers to the cinematographic work of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi whose archival cinema is interpreted as that which primarily raises questions about the intrinsic relation between cinema and history as well as about the possibility of constructing a visual experience of empathy in the society of spectacle.


  1. Bricoleur handles clichés. Metamorphoses of Robert Kuśmirowski’s "Wagon"

    Paula Kaniewska, ”Bricoleur handles clichés. Metamorphoses of Robert Kuśmirowski’s ...”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/klisza-w-rekach-bricoleura.-przemiany-wagonu-roberta-kusmirowskiego

    In this article, Robert Kuśmirowski’s Wagon installation is interpreted through clichés theory as originally conceived by Gilles Deleuze. The constant reworking of Kuśmirowski’s own artwork serves as a stepping stone in understanding both the artwork in question and Deleuze’s thought. The French philosopher’s image theory helps to unearth the mechanisms behind the subsequent transformations of the Wagon. Simultaneously, the object and its several versions display inherent properties of cliché images and their possible uses. Installation’s theme – freight wagon ­– evokes the traumatic memory of the second world war, thus examining clichés' relation with the past.

  2. Catharsis Through Abjection , or the Therapeutic Work of Sketchbooks by Maryan S. Maryana

    Gabriela Sułkowska, ”Catharsis Through Abjection”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/oczyszczenie-przez-wstret

    The article is an attempt to interpret Maryan S. Maryan's drawings, collected in the series entitled Ecce Homo, as an example of artistic activity that serves to "work through" trauma. The author reflects on the possibility of representing trauma and affect in the visual medium. Referring to the Deleuzian "logic of the sensation", she presents how Maryan’s sketches have been gradually losing their illustrative function, becoming the embodiments of affect. She reflects on the potentially traumatic experience, depicted in Maryan’s drawings, refering to the concept of abjection described by Julia Krsiteva. Finally, the author analizes function of abjection and ways in which this affect manifests in the Ecce Homo series.

  3. Masses, Medicine and Race. The Biopolitics of Monstrosity in Third Reich Propaganda Films

    Jan Borowicz, ”Masses, Medicine and Race. ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/masses-medicine-and-race

    Author examines body politics in Nazi cinema and propaganda movies (medical short films and materials filmed in the Polish Ghettos) in terms of constructing visual identity of nation in opposition to the allegedly non-normative bodies of Jews and mentally ill persons. Author connects the visual material with notions of biopolitics (Foucault, Agamben, Esposito).


  1. Reframing Memory and Knowledge: Artist as Producer

    Susan Schuppli, Kolektyw Kuratorski, ”Reframing Memory and Knowledge: Artist as Producer”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/reframing-memory-and-knowledge-artist-as-producer

    A conversation on main issues in Schuppli's research and artistic work between the artist and Curatorial Collective on the occasion of the exhibition Rzeczowy świadek, Kraków April 2017.

  2. On the impossibility of not being implicated and of not finally acknowledging it. Michael Rothberg in conversation with Katarzyna Bojarska

    Katarzyna Bojarska, Michael Rothberg, ”On the impossibility of not being implicated and of not ...”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/o-niemozliwosci-nieuwiklania-i-historycznej-ignorancji

    Conversation with Michael Rothberg on his concepts of multidirectional memory, implicated subjects, on the future of trauma studies as well as activism and possibilities of historical comparison.


  1. The Doppelgänger and his Master

    Kuba Mikurda, ”The Doppelgänger and his Master”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/the-doppelganger-and-his-master

    “Try to imagine that, in a crowd, maybe at a crosswalk, on a train, at a table right next to you—someone’s face, gestures, figure, and laughter suddenly capture all of your attention. As if your field of view suddenly expanded, lit up with a familiar color, as if someone turned on a neon light shaped like your own name. Before you manage to do anything, before you understand what’s happening—something inside you pulls you towards that person, says ‘Yes,’ says ‘There.’ It’s disturbing, an affect with a clear vector marked ‘There.’ A perceptual apparatus that favors the familiar turns on a green light. It seems to signal—over there is something that seems close to you, familiar, something that you are bound to. And all of this takes place in the blink of an eye, far below the threshold of conscious action.”

    A performative introduction, by Kuba Mikurda, to Johan Grimonprez’s Double Take (2009). Based on the themes of duality, playing for both sides, and doppelgänger fantasy, the tells not only the tale of Alfred Hitchcock’ lifelong fascination with such motifs, but also of the Cold War (and its influence on our contemporaneity) as a Hitchcock-esque reality.

    Using archive footage of Alfred Hichcock Presents, where the author of Psycho impersonates various alternative versions of himself, Grimonprez shows that the two sides of the Iron Curtain are actually two sides of the same coin – perfect mirror images of its double. The same is true for Cold War paranoia, the returning phantom of a global conflict, or atom war – it is ultimately difficult to say whether the films of the master of suspense, such as Birds and North by Northwest are its manifestation or is it maybe that in the current state of late modernity, our experience of the world took on the features of a Hitchcock film.

    Grimonprez – an artist known for gallery projects and theoretical interests, offers a story of the duplexity of a divided world – a slightly histo/erical one and full of distance and games. All the same, as Karen Beckmann reminds us, “the sameness of a twin is based on the repressed memory of division, breakage, and a sudden partition”.

  2. The Visitor

    Daniel Malone, ”The Visitor”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2017/18-phantom-histories/the-visitor

    Daniel Malone’s new project tackles the problem of cultural production, playing it out on several levels. On the one side, it questions production as a once-and-for-all established system of generating meanings; on the other, it criticizes cynical and tautological use of empty signs for the purposes of ideology (nation, market).

    Malone’s starting point is the retelling the story of the alleged visit of David Bowie in Warsaw, during which the artist was to buy a record of the Śląsk ensemble. This record was to later inspire the creation of the famous track Warszawa from Bowie’s 1976 album entitled Low. This story, although seemingly well-known and simple, allows Malone to create an incredibly detailed, but legible network of relations and meaningful comparisons, not as much contra-factual but rather hyper-factual. The tale of the artist, recounted from the legendary record store on the Komuny Paryskiej Square to the fact that Bowie’s track inspired the musicians from the Band Joy Division, is international in its message, but remains local on the level of context, and it can turn out that what we learn from it about the connection of this context to the world at large is more important today than ever.

    Although the tone of this narration is mostly ironic, it is also true that on the one side the exaggerated gesture of rewriting history is dangerously similar to politician strategies and manipulation techniques used by the media today, forcing us to carefully scrutinize the cultural production we all participate in; on the other, it restores the tradition of storytelling to artistic work – a well-crafted story can distort the status quo, regardless of whether it will be instrumentalised by politics or radicalised by the creators of culture.



  1. Logics of Counterintuition, An Exercise in Listening to Images

    Agnieszka Więckiewicz, ”Logics of Counterintuition, An Exercise in Listening to Images”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/logika-przeciwintuicji.-cwiczenie-ze-sluchania-obrazow

    The article analyses the theoretical work of Tina Campt, author of Listening to Images. An Exercise in Counterintuition (2017). The author reads Campt's work in relation to other works from the field of theory of photography and visual culture and asks about the possibility to use Campt's methods in the analysis of Polish visual cutlure.

  2. Queer Time, Queer Space

    Sebastian Jagielski, ”Queer Time, Queer Space”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/queerowy-czas-queerowa-przestrzen

    Review of Grzegorz Stępniak's book Sztuka życia inaczej. Ustanawianie queerowego czasu i przestrzeni [The Art of Living Differently. The Making of a Queer Time and Space].

  3. Islamophobia and Its Times

    Michał Kozłowski, ”Islamophobia and Its Times”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/islamofobia-i-jej-czasy

    Critical review of the book by Monika Bobako, Islamofobia jako technologia polityczna. Studium z antropologii politycznej [Islamophobia as a technology of power. The study on political anthropology], Universitas, Kraków 2017.

  4. Art Against the Empire: to unlearn the given

    Katarzyna Bojarska, ”Art Against the Empire: to unlearn the given”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 18 (2017), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2017/18-historie-fantomowe/sztuka-przeciwko-imperium-oduczyc-sie-tego-co-dane

    Critical review of the Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazartto exhibition entitled Assmablages in Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź (curated by Joanna Sokołowska) in the contexts of machinistic animism.