IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Marko Stamenković
Necropictures. The “South” as a Place to Look

There is a basic dialectics within which resides the need to examine two essential phenomena proposed in this paper: first, the discursive formation of so-called necropictures and, second, an ‘indecent’ theoretical figure (i.e. an image-maker and/or image-viewer of those pictures) whom I want to name simply the “Southerner”. The counter-hegemonic discourse on questions of life and death has witnessed a radical turn towards a new wave of seeing, analyzing, interpreting, understanding, and contextualizing the historical realities and rationalities according to which our presence in this world of neoliberal globalization and our critical – yet never passive – distance from it has produced a ‘rival knowledge’ or different types of rival knowledge. One little, though significant aspect of such rivalry has been related to our acts of looking – and when I say ‘our’ ways, I mean: the ways of looking differently from ‘their’ ways of looking. If ‘we’are the Third World spectators (or always barbaric, lazy, uncivilized and exotic Southerners), then ‘they’ must be something else. Following the exposed line of thought, this is to say: if there is a certain type of visibility (i.e. the dominant or hegemonic visibility inherent to neoliberal globalization and its visual panopticon, its ‘power of looking’ so to say), then there has always been and will always be another type of visibility: the kind of visibility inherent to counter-hegemonic globalization and its own place of looking, which I want to situate (together with Nicholas Mirzoeff, for example), in the very “South”, in order to name not only the counter-visibility – as it could justly be named – but in order to understand it also as the counter-visibility par excellence in response to dominant biopolitical visuality of the fascist present of the last decade. It is precisely there, in that “South” (the south as a place to look) where the discursive formation of so-called necropictures and my favorite figure of a lazy and barbaric, yet attentive and never sleepy, Southerner theoretically resides. What do I mean by necropictures, who is that Southerner exactly, and where is that mysterious place of looking?