Photographs of the Miners’ Raids

Reworking Images of the Past and Negotiating the Present

Photographs of the Miners’ Raids

Reworking Images of the Past and Negotiating the Present

Andrei Iliescu: untitled, June 14, 1990.

This paper investigates the conditions in which photojournalistic images of the past are becoming iconic and it also traces the ways in which such images actively negotiate the meanings of particular events. Starting from Robert Hariman and John Lucaites’ iconic photography methodology (2007), this research aims to clarify how iconicity operates in specific situations defined by cultural and digital circumstances. The proposed case study analyses the photographs of the events known as Miners’ Raids that took place in Bucharest, Romania in the aftermath of the December 1989 Revolution. First, through a close reading of the aesthetic qualities of the photographic composition, I investigate how images themselves are sites where meaning is produced and how they have the power to sustain multiple and sometimes contradictory semiotic transcriptions. Second, I trace the circulation and appropriation of these photographs to argue their capacity to generate debates and absorb new meanings in the course of their afterlives. The purpose is to understand how photography can work as a distinct category that can articulate complex ideas, judgments, and dialogue.

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Every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.
Reading time: 28 min.


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