Dismantling the face: landscape for another politics?

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The face is central to contemporary politics: it is photographed, pinned down, stored, documented, and presented as proof of identity in passports and ID cards. Automatic face recognition and face-processing systems are key to biopolitical control. However, Deleuze and Guattari argue that the face is a particular politics, and dismantling the face is also a politics. This paper explores what it might mean to dismantle the face, and what politics this might entail. It examines prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, as described by Oliver Sacks and exemplified by Chuck Close’s paintings, which see the face as landscape. It asks whether the use of grid and screen in Close’s portraits amounts to a dismantling of the face, and compares his approach to that seen in Francis Bacon’s heads. It argues that Close’s portraits trace a politics of becomings, a distribution of the sensible where we cannot, and do not, know who we are.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538–553
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • politics
  • faciality
  • prosopagnosia
  • face-blindness
  • Gilles Deleuze
  • Félix Guattari
  • Oliver Sacks
  • Chuck Close
  • Francis Bacon
  • portrait
  • faceless


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