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The Itinerant Languages of Photography

November 21 - 23, 2013
101 McCormick

Organized by Eduardo Cadava, Professor of English, and Gabriela Nouzeilles, Professor and Chair of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures, this symposium brings together scholars, curators, artists, and photographers from around the world to explore different modes of photographic itinerancy from the nineteenth century to the present. In doing so, they hope to offer the beginnings of an alternative, more dynamic, transnational history of photography.

The symposium coincides with an exhibition of the same title that is being shown at the Princeton University Art Museum through January 19, 2014. Like the exhibition, the symposium focuses in particular on the circulation and exchange of images across cultural, social, and national borders; the dialogue between photography and other media such as literature, cinema, architecture, and the visual arts; and the distinct ways in which visual archives enact relationships among memory and history. Assuming that the photographic image comes into being only as a consequence of reproduction, displacement, and itinerancy, the symposium will explore the various ways in which the photographic image has always been divided from itself and has always been destined to take on other forms and to move insistently into new contexts--perhaps today more than ever.

The event, which is open to the public, begins on November 21st at 5:30 p.m. in 101 McCormick at  Princeton University, with welcome remarks by James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum, and introductory remarks by Nouzeilles and Cadava. These opening remarks will be followed by the symposium’s keynote lecture, “The Revenge of Images,” which will be delivered by the Catalan photographer, Joan Fontcuberta, at 6 p.m., and then by a reception in the Princeton University Art Museum from 7:30 – 9 p.m. It will continue the next two days. Speakers include, among others, Ariella Azoulay, Geoffrey Batchen, Marcelo Brodsky, David Ferris, Eduardo Gil, Susan Meiselas, Christopher Pinney, Salvatore Puglia, and Taryn Simon. Please see the full program, schedule, and list of participants below.

The event is cosponsored by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Council of the Humanities, the Council for International Teaching and Research, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures, the Department of English, the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Program in Latin American Studies, and the Princeton University Art Museum.

For more information, contact Patricia Zimmer, or 609.258.4851. 


Ariella Azoulay is an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and Modern Media and Culture at Brown University. She is the author of Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (2011), From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950 (2011), The Civil Contract of Photography (2008), and Death’s Showcase: The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy (2001), which was awarded the 2002 Infinity Award for Writing presented by the International Center for Photography for excellence in the field of photography.

Geoffrey Batchen is a professor of art history at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of, among others, Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997), Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004), and Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010). He has also edited an anthology of essays entitled Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (2009) and coedited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012). Over the past 25 years, he has also been involved in the international art world as a curator and editor.

Marcelo Brodsky is an artist and human rights activist now based in Buenos Aires, after many years in exile in Barcelona. His early photographic works focus on the politics of memory and the memory of political activism in Argentina. Among them is "Buena memoria," which records the ghostly traces of a high-school class and its disappeared members during and after the last Argentine dictatorship. He has had solo exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, New York, Rotterdam, Rome, Caracas, and Amsterdam, and his work is represented in several public and private collections. He is a member of the Commission for the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism, Buenos Aires, and he directs the Latinstock photo agency.

Eduardo Cadava teaches in the Department of English at Princeton University. He is the author of Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (1997) and Emerson and the Climates of History (1997), and co-editor of Who Comes After the Subject? (1991), Cities Without Citizens (2004), and  And Justice for All? The Claims of Human Rights (2004), and coedited  The Itinerant Languages of Photography (2013). He is currently translating Nadar’s memoirs for MIT Press; his collection of essays on art and photography, Paper Graveyards: Essays on Art and Photography, is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.             

Zahid R. Chaudhary is an associate professor of English at Princeton University. He specializes in postcolonial studies, visual culture, and critical theory. His book, Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India, provides an historical and philosophical account of early photography in India. His new book project, "Mimetic Acts: The Play of Difference in Late Modernity," analyzes how medium specificity conditions the notions of historical difference emerging across contemporary postcolonial fiction, film, and architecture.

Susana Draper is an associate professor of comparative literature at Princeton University. She is the author of Ciudad posletrada y tiempos lúmpenes: crítica cultural y nihilismo en la cultura de fin de siglo and Afterlives of Confinement: Spatial Transitions in Postdictatorship Latin America (2012). Her new book, Imprisoned Worlds: Experiments in Freedom and Cognitive Democracy in 1968 Mexico, studies forms of figuration of freedom and cognitive democracy in prison literature, philosophical writings, and visual arts. 

David Ferris is a professor of comparative literature and humanities at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has written essays on Rilke, elegy and theology of language in Geoffrey Hill and Adorno, Agamben’s messianism, Sebald and Proustian memory, aesthetic paradox in Jacques Rancière, and Schiller’s aestheticization of Greece. He is the author of Theory and the Evasion of History (1993) and Silent Urns: Romanticism, Hellenism, Modernity (2000), and the editor of Walter Benjamin: Theoretical Questions (1996), The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin (2004), and The Cambridge Introduction to Walter Benjamin (2008).

Joan Fontcuberta is an artist and writer specializing in photography. He is a lecturer of audiovisual communication at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona. His work has been exhibited in over 30 museums and art galleries in Europe, the United States, and Japan. Among his more recent projects are Deconstruir Ossama, Deletrix, Googlegrames and Miracles & Co. He has been awarded the David Octavius Hill Prize from the Deutsche Fotografische Akademie in 1988, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the Ministry of Culture of France in 1994, the National Photography Award in 1998, and, most recently, the prestigious Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize in 2013.

Hal Foster is Townsend Martin ’17 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Among his many books are Art Since 1900 (2005), Prosthetic Gods (2004), Design and Crime (2002), and recently, The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha (2011) and The Art-Architecture Complex (2013). He presently is at work on a theory of modernism as a way (in the words of Walter Benjamin) “to outlive culture, if need be.” A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he writes regularly for October (which he coedits), Artforum, and the London Review of Books.

Eduardo Gil is a photographer who lives and works in Buenos Aires. He is the founder of the Photographic Aesthetics Workshops TEF (Talleres de Estética Fotográfica) and, in 1984, he participated in the founding of the photographic authors' center NAF (Núcleo de Autores Fotográficos). From 1991 to 2007, he was part of the Black Star Agency based in New York. His work has appeared in over 200 exhibitions, both individually and collectively, in, among other places, Argentina, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, the United States, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Thailand, and Venezuela.

Andrea Giunta is chair of Latin American art history in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas, Austin, where she also is director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies. She is the author of Candido Portinari y el sentido social del arte (2005), Avant-garde, Internationalism and Politics: Argentine Art in the Sixties (2007); Poscrisis: Arte argentino despues de 2001 (2009); El Guernica de Picasso (2010); and Objetos mutantes. Sobre arte contemporáneo (2010). She also has curated numerous exhibitions, including a retrospective of the work of León Ferrari at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires (2004).

Thomas Keenan is an associate professor of comparative literature and director of the Human Rights Project at Bard College. He is the author of Fables of Responsibility (1997) and of several articles in PMLA, New York Times, Wired, Aperture, Bidoun, Political Theory, and other journals. He has edited The End(s) of the Museum (1996) and has coedited New Media, Old Media (2005), Responses (1989); and Paul de Man, Wartime Journalism, 1939–1943 (1988). He recently co-curated, along with Carles Guerra, the award-winning exhibition Antiperiodismo (Antiphotojournalism) at La Vireinna in Barcelona.

Mauricio Lissovsky, a historian and scriptwriter, is an associate Professor at the School of Communications of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He is the author of Escravos brasileiros do século XIX (1988), Colunas da educação (1996), Retratos modernos (2005), A Máquina de Esperar (2008), and, most recently, Refugio do Olhar: A Fotografia de Kurt Klagsbrunn (2013). He also has written the scripts for several feature length films, including Serra Pelada (2010), and A Pessoa é para o que nasce (2004).

Susan Meiselas is a photographer and writer. She joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and  is well-known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. In 1997, she curated a 100-year photographic history of Kurdistan entitled "Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History." She has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. She has received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “outstanding courage and reporting” for her work in Nicaragua (1979), the Leica Award for Excellence (1982), the Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize (1994), and the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2005). In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.

Antonio Monegal is a professor of literary theory and comparative literature in the Department of Humanities at the Pompeu Fabra University. His books include Luis Buñuel de la literatura al cine: Una poética del objeto (1993) and En los límites de la diferencia: Poesía e imagen en las vanguardias hispánicas (1998). He is the editor of the works of García Lorca: El público y El sueño de la vida (2000) and Viaje a la luna (1994). Recently, he published Política y (po)ética de las imágenes de guerra ( 2007). He was one of the curators of the exhibition “At War,” prepared by the CCCB for the Barcelona Forum 2004. 

John Mraz is a research professor at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (Mexico). His books include Photographing the Mexican Revolution: Commitments, Testimonies, Icons (2012), Looking for Mexico: Modern Visual Culture and National Identity (2009), Nacho López, Mexican Photographer (2003), and Uprooted: Braceros in the Hermanos Mayo Lens (1996). He directed the award-winning documentary videotapes, Innovating Nicaragua and Made on Rails: A History of the Mexican Railroad Workers, and he also has curated international photographic exhibitions in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

Gabriela Nouzeilles is a professor of Latin American studies and chair of the Department of  Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures at Princeton University. Her books include Somatic Fictions: Naturalism, Nationalism, and Medical Politics of the Body (2000), and Of Other Places: Patagonia and the Production of Nature ( forthcoming). She edited La naturaleza en disputa. Retóricas del cuerpo y el paisaje (2002), and coedited The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, and Politics (2003); Cuentas pendientes: historias de la memoria y el retorno de la politica (forthcoming), and The Itinerant Languages of Photography (2013). She is currently working on a new book, entitled "Writing Photographs," on literature and photography.

Christopher Pinney is a professor of anthropology and visual culture at University College London. His publications include Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs (1998), Photos of the Gods: The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India (2004), The Coming of Photography in India (2008), and Photography and Anthropology (2011). He also has coedited Photography’s Other Histories (2003). He is presently completing a book entitled "Zoom: Seeing and Believing in Colonial and Postcolonial India, Lessons From Hell, and Visual Encounters."

Salvatore Puglia is an Italian artist presently living in Nimes, Paris. Over the last 25 years, his artistic investigations have focused on the documentary sources of images. He has edited Via dalle immagini / Leaving Pictures (Menabo, Salerno), and he also has curated exhibitions such as "Iconografie Transitory" in Rome and "Memoria e storia" in Naples. His works have been exhibited throughout the world, including France, Italy, Finland, China, Korea, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Taryn Simon is an American photographer. She is best known for her projects, "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII" (2008-11), "Contraband" (2010), "An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar" (2007), and most recently, "Image Atlas," which was created with programmer Aaron Swartz. Simon’s works have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012), the Tate Modern, London (2011), the Neue Nataionalgalerie, Berlin (2011), and the Whitney Museum of New York (2007). Permanent collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Whitney Museum, Centre Pompidou, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
Irene V. Small teaches contemporary art and criticism at Princeton University. She has written on Ferreira Gullar and the "New History" of the last avant-garde, Hélio Oiticica, Joseph Beuys and the relics of modernist sculpture, and conceptual art. With Tumelo Mosaka, she curated the exhibition “Blind Field” on contemporary Brazilian artists at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2013). She is currently completing a book on Hélio Oiticica and conceptual intervention.
Graciela Speranza teaches literature at the University of Buenos Aires. She has published several books on art and literature, including Guillermo Kuitca. Obras 1982-1998: Conversaciones con Graciela Speranza (1998), and Razones intensas, Conversaciones sobre arte (1999). Other publications include the study Manuel Puig: Despues del fin de la literature (2000), Fuera de campo. Literatura y arte argentinos después de Duchamp (2006), and, most recently, Atlas portátil de América Latina: Arte y ficciones errantes (2012). She is the coeditor of the well-known magazine of arts and letters, Otra parte.

Click on the image to view the symposium agenda