Intolerable Gaze: The Social Contract of Photography

Author: Carville, Justin

Source: Photography and Culture, Volume 3, Number 3, November 2010 , pp. 353-358(6)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)

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The publication of Ariella Azoulay's The Civil Contract of Photography not only provides a new theoretical model for understanding the agency ascribed to the photographic image in social relations, it also proposes a series of paradigmatic shifts of the ontology and historiography of photography to place it within emergent discourses of citizenship, technology and political relations. This review essay explores the key propositions outlined by Azoulay in shifting the dualistic concern of spectator and image embedded in much philosophical thought on image ethics, towards a triadic model that embraces photographer, the photographed subject and spectator as participants in what she identifies as the 'citizenry of photography'. It identifies the central theoretical arguments that underpin Azoulay's intervention into discourses of the social relations of the photographic image and assesses the books contribution to re-thinking the role of the photo-journalistic image within the spheres of conflict, citizenship, democracy and spectatorship.


Document Type: Review Article


Publication date: November 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Photography & Culture is a refereed journal that is international in its scope and inter-disciplinary in its contributions. It aims to interrogate the contextual and historic breadth of photographic practice from a range of informed perspectives and to encourage new insights into the media through original and incisive writing.

    Photography & Culture publishes research papers, discursive critiques, and reviews. In doing so, it offers a leading platform for critical thinking on photography and as essential reading the world over for academics, curators and practitioners with a central and indeed tangential interest in the media.

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