<p>Trenches in the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme.</p>
<p>Photo Michael Sheils <em>Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 1918</em>. Courtesy of the artist</p>
<p>Trenches in the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme.</p>
<p>Photo Michael Sheils <em>Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 1918</em>. Courtesy of the artist</p>

No. 25: History Is Present

Managing editor: Iwona Kurz

Trenches in the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme.

Photo Michael Sheils Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 1918. 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, and by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, from the Fund for the Promotion of Culture.

Table of Contents


  1. History Is Present

    ”History Is Present”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2112

    Introduction to issue 25 "History is Present".

    keywords: history; representation; visuality; recording


  1. Historian's Eye and Voice of the History

    François Hartog, ”Historian's Eye and Voice of the History”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2099

    Chapter L'oeil de l'historien et la voix de l’histoire from the book Évidence de l'histoire. Ce que voient les historiens by François Hartog (Éditions de l’cole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris 2005).

    The author analyzes the reflection on "ways of recalling history" in the historiography of three French nineteenth-century historians: Jules Michelet, Augustin Thierry and Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges. He takes into account the difference of sources studied by them, different ways of reading these sources, but also biographical contexts. He demonstrates how a historian constructs 'historical realism' or 'how it was'.

    keywords: historiography – 19th century; Jules Michelet; Augustin Thierry; Fustel de Coulanges

  2. Just Numbers: Challenging Statistical Reasoning in Peter Watkins’s "La Commune (Paris, 1871)"

    Fabienne Liptay, ”Just Numbers”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2092

    The essay deals with the political aesthetics of cinema with regard to the use of extras. It is argued that what is usually considered as aesthetic abundance or luxury, especially in the Hollywood historical epic, which relies heavily on the use of extras, should be re-addressed from a social perspective as lack or shortage. Given the etymological proximity that exists between statistics (Statistik) and extras (Statisten) in German, the author proposes to think of extras as being produced by operations of numbering and counting that are deeply entangled into the political history of establishing and maintaining social and state order. In this context, Peter Watkins’s La Commune (Paris, 1871) (2000), a film about the Paris Commune, is discussed as critical engagement with the foundational practices of state order by challenging the statistical reasoning and thought that is so closely related to the figure of the extra.

    keywords: Paris Commune; Peter Watkins; extras; statistics; state; community; numbers; counting; film; photography

  3. Statues and Status Quo. Time of Monuments in the United States

    Łukasz Zaremba, ”Statues and Status Quo”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2075

    In 2015, an armed young white man entered the church in Charleston and killed nine African-Americans. He was guided by racist motives, modeled on Confederate soldiers and had previously been willing to photograph himself with the Confederate flag. This event once again triggered a discussion in the United States not only about the ideological but also material heritage of the Confederacy states, including the monuments ubiquitous in the cities of the South: memorials to Confederacy leaders, but also to anonymous soldiers. These monuments have become the subject of stormy disputes. Some of them were removed by the authorities (New York, New Orleans), some were overthrown in grassroots actions by activists (including Durham and Chapel Hill, referred to in the article); however, a large group was defended by the Republican state authorities. 

    The article - written from the perspective of visual culture studies - aims to recognize the specificity of the monument's medium in the context of these disputes. It argues that the most important characteristic of the medium considered obsolete today (static, unchangeable, heavy, physical, public, etc.) is its ability to present itself as natural, eternal, "historical". These monuments do not only serve to distort the history of civil war in the states of the South (particularly by erasing slavery from it). At the time of their creation - several decades after the war - they were tools of an aggressive policy of segregation and were intended to emphasize the domination of whites and the permanence of pre-war racial divisions.

    The analysis of a contemporary artistic "monumental" intervention - Kehinde Wiley's Rumors of War, unveiled in December 2019 - will help in recognizing the specificity of the monument's medium. This work, from the perspective of art criticism falling into the traps of politics of representation, from the perspective of visual culture studies turns out to be an important guide, entering into a complicated dialogue with the monuments of five Confederate leaders still present at the Monument Avenue in Richmond, the capital of the secessionists.

    keywords: monument; monumentomania; iconoclasm; visual culture; iconoclash; Confederacy; Lost Cause; Civil War – memory; Kehinde Wiley; Richmond; Monument Avenue; Durham; Chapel Hill

  4. Necrocartography: Topographies and topologies of dispersed Shoah

    Aleksandra Szczepan, Kinga Siewior, ”Necrocartography”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2065

    On the basis of the experience of spatial confusion and inadequacy, common during visits at uncommemorated sites of violence, the authors propose to expand the topological reflection in the research on the spatialities of the Holocaust, as well as to introduce topology to the analysis of the everyday experiences of users of the post-genocidal space of Central and Eastern Europe’s bloodlands. Their research material is composed of hand-drawn maps by Holocaust eyewitnesses – documents created both in the 1960s and in recent years. They start by summarizing the significance of topology for cultural studies and provide a state-of-the-art reflection on cartography in the context of the Shoah. Then the authors proceed to interpret several of the maps as particular topological testimonies. They conclude by proposing a multi-faceted method of researching these maps, “necrocartography,” oriented on their testimonial, topological and performative aspects.

    keywords: Holocaust; map; topology; topography; cartography; testimony; cultural geography

  5. “Product Not Available in Pre-War Quantities – but Quality Remains the Same”: Remarks on Advertisements as Historical Sources

    Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska, ”“Product Not Available in Pre-War Quantities – but Quality Remains...”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2060

    The article focuses on advertisements as visual and historical sources. The material comes from the German press that appeared immediately after the end of the Second World War. During this time, all kinds of products were scarce. In comparison to this, colorful advertisements of luxury products are more than noteworthy. What do these images tell us about the early post-war years in Germany? The author argues that advertisements are a medium that shapes social norms. Rather than reflecting the historical realities advertisements construct them. From an aesthetical and cultural point of view, advertisements gave thus a sense of continuity between the pre- and post-war years. The author suggests therefore, that the advertisements should not be treated as a source for economic history. They are, however, important for studying social developments that occurred in the past.

    keywords: visual history; advertisement; post WW2 Germany


  1. So It’s War

    Agnieszka Rayss, ”So It’s War”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2107

    Presentation of Agnieszka Rayss' So It's War project.

    keywords: war; re-enactment; landscape

  2. Barren Battles: Reconstruction

    Iwona Kurz, ”Barren Battles: Reconstruction”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2102

    Commentary on Agnieszka Rayss' So It's War (2019)

    keywords: re-enactment; photography; panorama; memory of war

  3. Never Embrace Burning Statues

    Róża Duda & Michał Soja, ”Never Embrace Burning Statues ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2086

    Presentation of Róża Duda and Michał Soja's project Never Embrace Burning Statues.

    keywords: monuments; history; speculative history; affective history

  4. Haiti and Speculative History

    Dorota Sosnowska, ”Haiti and Speculative History”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2083

    Commentary on Róża Duda and Michał Soja's work Never Embrace Burning Statues (2019).

    keywords: Haiti; Faustin Wirkus; revolution; speculative history; potential history


  1. A Book of Her Own: R. H. Quaytman’s Visual Historiography – A Conversation with Katarzyna Bojarska

    Katarzyna Bojarska, R.H. Quaytman, ”A Book of Her Own: R. H. Quaytman’s Visual Historiography”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2012

    A conversation with the artist R.H. Quaytman about the project of the Book, which she has been "writing" since 2001, and whose 35th chapter was presented at the Museum Sztuki in Łódź (2019-2020). The conversation is devoted to her visual historiography as well as to how she manages images in order to create life- and art-stories.

    keywords: R.H.Quaytman; art; history; book; painting; woman


  1. Uncanny Histories. Smolensk Catastrophe, Double, and the Disappearing Twin

    Agata Sierbińska, ”Uncanny Histories”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2044

    The article attempts to investigate the status of the Smolensk catastrophe of 10 April 2010 as a historical event. To this end, W.J.T. Mitchell’s concept of the historical uncanny is being employed.  This category transfers Freudian concept of the uncanny, which describes individual psychological mechanisms, to collective experiences arising in times of high uncertainty and in the face of events of unclear causes. It is then that the collective imagination begins to be organised by strange coincidences and populated by figures suspended between fantasy and reality – for example, decoys or look-alikes -  visual icons of their epochs. The phantasmagorical aspect of the events of April 10, 2010 is highlighted through the figures of striking likeness: a look-alike – Donald Tusk and twins – Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński. The article also tackles on the process of harnessing the chaos of reality "after the catastrophe" and the political attepts to write the story "about the catastrophe".

    keywords: Smolensk catastrophe; the uncanny; Sigmund Freud; a double; historical event; visual event

  2. Semiocapitalism, Spectacle, Eikonomia, and the Function of Art

    Sotirios Bahtsetzis, ”Semiocapitalism, Spectacle, Eikonomia, and the Function of Art”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2072

    The paper discusses the contemporary notion of the collectible masterpiece, which is understood not simply as a visual metaphor that embraces a specific late-capitalist sociopolitical order, but also as the visual equivalent of a long-lasting debate on the iconicity of power. Drawing on Giorgio Agamben’s research into the conflation of the image and the notion of divine providence, as well as on his account of the theological-economic paradigm of power and sovereignty (the notion of oeconomy), the article analyses the apparently secularized image-production of the historical Avant-Garde. It argues that the notion of the masterpiece, which founds the appreciation of art in modernity (with an emphasis on recent developments), embodies specific theological concepts that were already present during the iconophilic Western word order resulting out of both the Byzantine and Calvinist iconoclasm. The article proposes a pre-modern archaeology of the society of spectacle, as well as illuminating the startling dominance of semiocapitalism’s iconicity.

    keywords: Avant-Garde; Iconoclasm; Economics and Art; Byzantium; Society of Spectacle

  3. Other Images of the Past. Remarks on Destabilizations of Polish Art History Discourse in the Newest Museum Exhibitions

    Piotr Słodkowski, ”Other Images of the Past”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2067

    The author poses the question: how museum exhibitions can work as an effective tool of re-writing some burning subjects of Polish art history, choosing three exhibition projects (2019–2020) to elaborate possible answers. Expressions of Freedom supports thinking of ‘potential (art) history’ (Ariella Azoulay): alternative geographies, linkages, or circulations of artists. Streng/Włodarski exhibits the materiality of artworks as historical sources and thus helps art history to become a crucial fragment of Holocaust studies. Finally, he claims, the exhibition Never again makes use of historical antifascist art and in this ‘retro-active’ gesture (Rem Koolhaas) examines the agency of engaged art today.

    keywords: Polish modern art; art history; museum exhibitions; new materialism

  4. Rethinking Paleolithic Visual Culture throughout immersive technology: The site "Cueva de las Manos" as a virtual "Denkraum" (Patagonia, Argentina)

    Marina Gutiérrez De Angelis, Greta Winckler et al., ”Rethinking Paleolithic Visual Culture”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2081

    The discussion about the concepts of cave art and painting settled the basis of the project in the archaeological site of Cueva de las Manos in Argentina. The team use an immersive technology of VR and the 360° video as a methodology to explore visuality understood as a corporal act. Our hypothesis maintains that the concept of “aesthetic experience” is not exclusively artistic, in its modern sense. The immersive medium allows users to experience the Cave, as a Virtual Denkraum, the spatial and cinematic sensoriality of the image, that poses open questions, instead of the need to decode meaning in the pictures.

    keywords: Paleolithic; visual culture; cave art; virtual reality; immersive technology

  5. Black Woman's Gaze. Nomusa Makhubu Unearths the Colonial Archive

    Teresa Fazan , ”Black Woman's Gaze”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2088

    The paper proposes an analysis of Nomusa Makhubu’s 2014 artwork Umasifanisane I (Comparison I) within the context of critical black feminist studies (Sara Ahmed, Hortense J. Spillers, Sylvia Wynter) and archival studies (Ariella Azoulay, Tina M. Campt). The author's primary aim is to show how dominating historical narratives can be disrupted with the means of insightful archival research, artistic reappropriation, and montage, which actively alter postcolonial knowledge production. Makhubu’s project demonstrates that although history itself will not solve the problems arising from colonial violence, working with a visual archive and persisting in staying with the trouble may propose new ways of representing black womanhood.

    keywords: archival studies; black studies; colonial archive; colonialism; feminism; photography; visual art


  1. The Veil and Fascism

    Michał Pospiszyl, ”The Veil and Fascism”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2040

    Review of the exhibition Never Again. Art Against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries, curators: Sebastian Cichocki, Joanna Mytkowska, Łukasz Ronduda, Aleksandra Urbańska, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 30 August – 17 November 2019

    keywords: antifascism; antifascist art; Pablo Picasso; European Union

  2. War, violence, anti-fascism. Some pacifist comments on the “Never Again” exhibition

    Marta Rakoczy, ”War, violence, anti-fascism”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.2070

    Critical response to the exhibition Never Again. Art Against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries, curators: Sebastian Cichocki, Joanna Mytkowska, Łukasz Ronduda, Aleksandra Urbańska, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 30 August – 17 November 2019. It regards contemporary interpretations of anti-fascist and pacifist traditions, undertaken in public space and analyzed through the exhibition. Referring to the philosophical propositions of Giorgio Agamben, Terry Eagleton and Peter Sloterdijk, the author ask a question about violence, its criticism, and about artistic and philosophical dictionaries that could serve a reconciliation. She also tries to show that recognizing pacifist traditions associated with consistent refusal of violence requires rethinking of modern art. This task, as she argues, is still as much unrealized as cognitively and socially necessary.

    keywords: anti-fascism, pacifism, violence, modern art

  3. A response to Andrzej Marzec's review "Nekros. ONtologia martwego (męskiego) ciała"

    Ewa Domańska, ”Response to Andrzej Marzec”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 25 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/widok/2019.25.1981

    Ewa Domańska's response to Andrzej Marzec's review of her "Nekros. ONtologia martwego (męskiego) ciała"

    keywords: Nekros; Ewa Domańska; feminism; posthumanism; human remains