Colloque, 22 octobre 2010

Photographie et pouvoir d’État: la création d’un état de guerre

Ariella Azoulay
Imaginaires du présent: Photographie, politique et poétique de l’actualité, événement organisé par Vincent Lavoie et Mirna Boyadjian

Titre en anglais: Declaring the State of Israel: Declaring a State of War -The Victory Shot

When Jean Baudrillard wrote The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991) many claimed he had dishonored the memory of those who had fought and died in the Gulf conflict. Others simply dismissed the work as eccentric. After the initial shock wore off, however, many began to recognize the breakthrough that the text marked and the possibilities it opened for rethinking war and its contribution to political economy. Within the Israeli context, whether directly affected by Baudrillard or as a result of a growing criticism of the Israelis violent control of the Palestinians, a critical discourse of war has taken shape since the first Lebanon War that is not exclusive to state officials and the military. For the past fifteen years, as Israel’s large-scale military operations have become more frequent, discursive debates focused on war and other military “operations”—in an attempt to determine whether war was indeed a proper appellation for Israel’s exercise of force—has become a routine practice of people from across the political spectrum. Nearly every time Israel deploys the military—for instance, the operations named “Grapes of Wrath,” “Defensive Shield,” “Peace for the Galilee,” and “Cast Lead”—the question arises whether it is, in fact, a war or merely a “campaign.”. Until the First Intifada in 1987 the identity of these operations have appeared indisputable but since then, with this new discourse in place, even wars of the past have undergone a reexamination. Just as Baudrillard challenges the definition of war, one could also describe the attempts in Israel to call a situation “war”—or deprive it of this label—as a challenge to the State and a call for greater participation in a discourse that has been exclusively  controlled by the state. However, my claim is that in the Israeli context this is an uncritical description that misses the point.

Ariella Azoulay est une philosophe et photographe israélienne. Elle a collaboré à de nombreux ouvrages collectifs qui portent sur la photographie, parmi lesquels Death’s Showcase: The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy (MIT Press, 2001) qui a remporté le prix «Infinity Award for Writing» en 2002, délivré par le Centre International de la Photographie; Once Upon a Time: Photography Following Walter Benjamin (Bar Ilan University Press, 2006) et Testimony (Aperture, 2007). Son dernier livre, The Civil Contract of Photography, a été publié aux éditions Zone Books en 2008.

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