Still Face, moving face

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6 Citations (SciVal)


The article examines two sets of photographs of the face: first, a set of images by Suzanne Opton of soldiers returned from tours of duty in Iraq/Afghanistan and second, Robert Lyons’ portraits of Rwandans. In conclusion, it looks briefly at Alfredo Jaar’s The Eyes of Gutete Emerita. It explores what pictures of the face can do. Responses to Opton’s images from passers-by who saw them mounted on huge billboards, as well as the photographer’s account of what she thought she was doing, and Lyon’s motives and reactions to his work are examined. Drawing in part on Ariella Azoulay’s political ontology of photography and Jacques Rancière’s notion of the distribution of the sensible, the article asks what it is that these images of the face do, politically, and whether there might be a way in which the face, or its still image, and the event of photography in which the face is embedded, escapes the dominant regime of signification. The article argues that despite its widespread use in practices of biopolitical control, the face, or in some cases its still image, can prompt or generate action and challenge the dominant regime of signification and visibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-429
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Issue number4
Early online date09 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • face
  • photograph
  • emotion
  • portrait
  • politics
  • image
  • Suzanne Opton
  • Robert Lyons
  • Alfredo Jaar
  • international politics


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