Photography as a Small Language

Interview with Robert Hariman

Doi: https://doi.org/10.47659/m2.010.int

In the interview, Robert Hariman talks about his latest co-authored book The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship (University of Chicago Press, 2016), presenting the main argument that they put forward with John Louis Lucaites – that a paradigm shift is needed within the field of photographic theory in order to understand the changing social role of photography in contemporary societies. They argue for a redefinition of the medium’s burden of representation, embracing its limitations and treating it as a small language, firmly embedded within the notion of the vernacular. This move beyond simple politics of representation, he argues, should however not be apolitical. In fact, the paradigm shift is needed to re-politicise photography and therefore increase its political efficacy in the wake of unsustainability of the dominant neoliberal socio-economic order and the specific catastrophic idea of progress which it promotes.

In the interview, Robert Hariman talks about his latest co-authored book The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship (University of Chicago Press, 2016), presenting the main argument that they put forward with John Louis Lucaites – that a paradigm shift is needed within the field of photographic theory in order to understand the changing social role of photography in contemporary societies. They argue for a redefinition of the medium’s burden of representation, embracing its limitations and treating it as a small language, firmly embedded within the notion of the vernacular. This move beyond simple politics of representation, he argues, should however not be apolitical. In fact, the paradigm shift is needed to re-politicise photography and therefore increase its political efficacy in the wake of unsustainability of the dominant neoliberal socio-economic order and the specific catastrophic idea of progress which it promotes.

In the interview, Robert Hariman talks about his latest co-authored book The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship (University of Chicago Press, 2016), presenting the main argument that they put forward with John Louis Lucaites – that a paradigm shift is needed within the field of photographic theory in order to understand the changing social role of photography in contemporary societies. They argue for a redefinition of the medium’s burden of representation, embracing its limitations and treating it as a small language, firmly embedded within the notion of the vernacular. This move beyond simple politics of representation, he argues, should however not be apolitical. In fact, the paradigm shift is needed to re-politicise photography and therefore increase its political efficacy in the wake of unsustainability of the dominant neoliberal socio-economic order and the specific catastrophic idea of progress which it promotes.

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Breaking of the convention is an argument for certain kind of authenticity. A grimaced face is not a posed face, therefore it must be an authentic, truly expressive face, the real face.
Reading Time: 18 minutes
Reading Time: 18 minutes
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