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Notes on the politics of configuration (Part II): A Berlin event

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The political in representation, as active dissent, has no meaning if it is denied that the visual can mean – propose, argue, reason, contend – in ways comparable to that achieved in language. In the first part of this article, working through the analysis of a number of political posters (above all the Obama Hope poster fromĀ 2008) the case was made for seeing the visual configuration of the work (its design or disegno) as structuring the work in potentially the same way as arguments and propositions are structured in language. Working from the comparison between a moment from Hamlet and Margaret Bourke-White’s famous photograph from Louisville 1937 (which shows a line of people standing queuing for flood relief below a poster boosting the American Way) part two takes much further the analysis of the Bourke-White photograph opened in part one but it balances this with an exploration of a remarkable, but little known, 1993 Holocaust memorial in Berlin by the artist and art historian couple Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock. As the only Holocaust memorial centred on a distributed series of printed, poster-like images, the memorial is analysed both in its economy and in the force of its political gestures. Taken together the two analyses offer the embryo of a theory of the politics of visual dissent.
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Keywords: configuration; dissent; event; history; holocaust; politics; poster; proposition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New School University

Publication date: 01 December 2011

More about this publication?
  • The poster-maker, the pamphleteer and the tagger aim to sway the popular heart and mind through visual public interventions. As new technologies rise, turning the public sphere into a transparent, ubiquitous communications medium and a global marketplace, is the privileged status of the poster doomed or are we seeing it transformed as part of a new wave of visual rhetoric? When the environment starts to become responsive to our very presence and aware of our individual nature what is the role of the 'traditional poster' delivering a classical rhetorical message? This peer-reviewed journal aims to lead the debate. The Poster stands as a vehicle for the ideas of media theorists; scholars of Cultural Studies and Cultural Materialism; for social psychologists of visual communication, for architects and designers of wayfinding schemes; for philosophers of Aesthetics and Politics, Society and Linguistics; for social scientists, anthropologists and ethnographers; for political campaigners and artist activists; for communications researchers and visual communications practitioners.
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