PRINT February 1992


NOTICE HOW THE SEEMINGLY neutral observation that the photographic image retains a trace of something real has evolved in the course of the century into an exquisite thanatology. No sooner is the brevity of this real physical contingency evoked than reality is given up for dead and buried, withdrawn into a vanished past, irretrievable. The mourning and melancholia of Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida is only the most sustained, perhaps delirious, example of an understanding of photography as the experience of mutability. It is as if the ideals of Modernism and a radical epistemological pessimism had so divorced us from reality that a flash of the world necessarily set into motion a passing bell.

How do we escape from this infernal preterit, the tense that Barthes so convincingly ascribed to photography? More intricate time relations become apparent as soon as the medium is regarded as a

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 1992 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.