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Pablo Hernández Hernández

Justice and Testimony between Image and Word. Foundations for a Photographic Study of Guerrilla Movements in Central America

Justicia y testimonio entre imagen y palabra. Bases para un estudio de la fotografía de los movimientos guerrilleros en Centroamérica
[09/06/2014]

Résumés

This paper presents and discusses a conceptual perspective on the relationship between documentary photography and testimonial literature. The conceptual perspective focuses on the performative aspect of language, in the case of testimonial literature (speech act), and raises the possibility of understanding documentary photographic images from this same performative aspect, as an image act. This theoretical procedure involves a philosophical assessment of our concepts of justice and of the foundations for an analysis of the representation of political violence, in images and words. From this literary and photographic plane, it is possible to bring forth another justice and another study of images of guerrilla armed conflicts in Central America.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

1A first set of questions has led us to write this essay: How to read literary images of Central America without feeling compelled to watch its photographic and artistic images as well? How have we learned to read literary images without looking at photographic and artistic images? How could we? And to what end?

  • 1 For a more comprehensive and detailed explanation of these premises for the study of the relationsh (...)

2At the starting point of the journey of responding such questions, there are a number of theoretical and conceptual clarifications to be done. They do not represent all the answers, and are merely an exploration of certain cultural fragments on the points of contact between the visual cultures and verbal cultures we inhabit and which, in turn, inhabit us. This is one of the more specific challenges of literary studies which are no longer conceived from the presets of arbitrary cultural categories, such as those which in past centuries separated verbal and visual culture in Europe (and by extension, first through colonization, then through mass media, also in the rest of the world). Such literary studies are conceived as a tool for cultural analysis of the production of meaning and material substrates that necessarily involve both verbal and visual culture. Such literary studies no longer find it necessary to defend the "pure word" or to be hopelessly separated from the "pure image", precisely because they are unable to recognize the existence of a "pure word" or a "pure image," only constant processes of production and realization of meaning through images and words.1

3One of the most important examples that can be addressed from this perspective is precisely the display of political violence in Latin America during its leftist revolutionary phase in the second half of the twentieth century. In this short period of time, Latin America experienced over 50 left-wing revolutionary guerrilla movements in 19 different countries. This brought forth not only a dominant element of the subcontinent's political history, but also an overall guerrilla revolutionary culture which, as we know, includes a particular literary culture as well as a particular visual culture. In this regard, both testimonial literature in verbal culture, and war documentary photography in visual culture are significantly important.

4We will discuss some crucial conceptual premises on the contact between these two cultural productions, which have seen in Central America one of their most prolific, varied and complex scenarios.

Deconstruction of Justice

  • 2 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", trans. Mary Quaintance, in (...)
  • 3 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", trans. Outi Pasanen, in Sovereignties in Qu (...)

5Our initial question is whether it is possible to speak of a visual testimony, and in what sense one could speak of such a thing compared to what has been said about the verbal testimony. Our starting point in trying to answer this question is through a re-reading, interpretation and commentary of a series of ideas from the lectures Of the Right to Justice2, and Poetics and Politics of Witnessing3, by Jacques Derrida. In these celebrated lectures, the French author proposes that:

  • 4 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 245.

To address oneself to the other in the language of the other is both the condition of all possible justice, it seems, but, in all rigor, it appears not only impossible [...] but even excluded by justice as law.4

  • 5 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", p. 66.

[...] all responsible witnessing engages a poetic experience of language.5

  • 6 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", p. 68.

[...] as it is guaranteed, certain as a theoretical proof, a testimony can no longer be guaranteed as testimony. For it to be guaranteed as testimony, it cannot, it must not, be absolutely certain, absolutely sure and certain in the order of knowing as such.6

6In these complex conferences, Derrida intends to analyze the distinction between law and justice, which eventually can be understood as an investigation of the ways of linking and unlinking power, authority and violence.

  • 7 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 237.

7The distinction between law and justice allows, according to Derrida, understanding that one cannot talk about justice directly. Justice cannot be thematized or objectified without betraying justice, as the effort to do so forces us to say things as impossible as "this is just" or "I am just." The nature of the law is different in that it tries to adjust but is not justice. It is juridical, but it is not justice. The law [droit] is, rather, the foundation of laws [lois] by an authorized force, by a signed force, i.e. a force with a signature.7

8Obvious at this point are several conceptual and philosophical problems, which we cannot solve or discuss here, such as whether it is possible to answer the question: what is justice? But also obvious is how Derrida's statements relate to our theme. For example, the fact that the conditions of law and justice, the impossible condition of justice and the imposition of the law, are both placed by Derrida in the more general context of the drive to address the other through a language, through a medium. But considering that, while justice involves an indirect language, the foundation of law involves a signed act of language.

9Traditionally, we think that testimony [testimonium] is a declaration before a judge [iûdex] and it presupposes the existence of a witness [testis]. In this situation, which Derrida calls the context of judgment, the existence of a testimony implies the existence of a witness. Though, conversely, not all witnesses offer testimony. Testimony is guaranteed by the existence of the witness, the existence of a subject that embodies the intention of addressing the other, that is, a person conveying testimony, an agent of the act of testifying and the place of the experience and the life event that the testimony mediates.

  • 8 For an in-depth study of the issue of testimony in the literatures of Latin America, see: Beverley, (...)

10The original place of the testimony within the law, within the context of judgment in which witness, testimony and judge are involved, does not lose any force in subsequent uses of the term testimony to describe a general form of speech and even a form or genre of oral and written narrative literature8. In literature, this force expresses significant variations in the context of judgment and its social and cultural understanding and practice. It expresses variations of doing justice as discussed by Derrida, since the force of testimony implies a displacement–which is neither innocent nor harmless–from the courts to literature. Let us see what this displacement consists of, according to Derrida.

11In the context of judgment, the witness acts through things that can be done with speech, with language. The witness cannot embody justice, enunciating phrases like "this is just" or "I am just", as noted above. Why? Because the exercise of speech and the language of testimony are different from the use that presupposes, as its foundation and guarantee, a general language and a general individual–which we know exist only in the form of a specific language and a specific individual with universalist pretensions. And also because it would assume the possibility of an appropriation of justice through language, which as we know, from Plato to Kant, produces a series of problems that end up betraying the very notion of justice and law. We cannot incorporate justice in an action, an object or a person without, at the same time, betraying justice.

  • 9 In Natural law and human dignity, Ernst Bloch explains the revolutionary possibility of positive la (...)

12For now, we will maintain the idea that, in testimony, it is impossible to exercise a general language or the form of a general individual. Rather, our work with testimony requires learning to read, write, think and judge outside the imagination of a general language and a general individual. If an act of witnessing were at all possible from general language and in the form of a general individual, such act would not produce a testimony. Perhaps, it might produce other types of discourse, but not a testimony. Unlearning the dominant representation of writing as tied to an alleged general language and the form of a general individual is one of the most important acts of testimony, which requires us to acknowledge that for testimony to occur someone must seize, assault and mark a language with their signature, to produce an adequation between what is, what is said and what is understood. Or, in Derrida's words, in order to found another context of judgment, another law [loi] and another right [droit]9.

  • 10 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 233.
  • 11 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", p. 66.
  • 12 Derrida also addresses this constellation of elements in his text “Poetics and Politics of Witnessi (...)

13I will now explain these conditions. In order for the judgment to be authorized, for the act of judging to take place, the first requirement is the appropriation of a language, i.e. to be competent, to master the ability of "addressing the other" through language. The second requirement is the adequation between what is and what is said and between what is said and what is understood. Thirdly, an authorized force is also necessary, someone who affirms their signature and thus becomes author and reference of the questioning or interrogative form of language involved in every context of judgment10. The combination of these three aspects is the starting point, the necessary foundation of the law, and also of the testimony11. The possibility of judgment, the possibility of the act of judging and, therefore, the possibility of testimony, is nothing other than a type of performativité, as Derrida explains12.

  • 13 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 242.
  • 14 In his posthumous book: Austin, John Langshaw, How to do Things with Words, Cambridge, MA, Harvard (...)
  • 15 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 242.

14And here is the crucial point to tie our notion of testimony to the idea of ​​speech act and the possibility of a category such as the image act. The issue of justice, but also of right and of the law, the witness, judges, and testimonies, is not about fixing a structure of law; rather, it is about a critique of legal ideology, of not allowing the settlement of superstructures of law and of making visible, at all times, the relationship between law and domination as an internal relationship acting through force, power and violence13. To do justice, as is said colloquially, is to found the law, and this is a stroke of performative force rooted in language as one of the two types of speech act explained by John Austin in 196214. Doing justice is a not a constative speech act, but rather a performative one. Testimony and the various literary traditions of witnessing prove to be a force capable of vindicating the possibility of the performative speech act involved in the foundation of the law, but not to settle in the superstructures of law. Rather, as part of a criticism of legal ideology, as mentioned above. Beyond the domain of institutionalized, positive law, testimonial literatures call for the exercise of the speech act as the foundation of the law, but of a law which is not confined to the dominant forms of law and legal ideology. This performative speech act is interpretive. In itself, it is neither just nor unjust; it is rhetorical, it is persuasive and poetic, as we know from Austin. Thus, given performativity in language and the dimension of language that allows us to do things with it, testimony is presented as a vindication of the founding power of language and its force with respect to the law, but as a critical alternative to codes of laws and legal ideology15.

  • 16 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 249.
  • 17 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 247.

15Testimony is presented as an alternative to nihilism and dogmatism in understanding the relationship between language, law and violence, as it results in a double movement, towards a privileged instability, an anguish, as Derrida states, between thought, writing, law and justice.16 Why a double movement? Because on the one hand, it demands limitless responsibility, necessarily excessive and incalculable, before memory; 17while, on the other hand, it requires just as strongly to be responsible with the concept of responsibility, criticizing its given or dominant status, which in fact can lead to seeming or being irresponsible.

  • 18 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 244.

16Thus, it can be said, as Derrida does, that "justice is an experience of the impossible"18. But one can also say that justice is, at the same time and thought from the cultural practice of testimony, the experience of insistence on another law and another right through the speakable and imaginable.

17This is the framework from which I discuss the possibility of a visual testimony which integrates the concept of image act and a critical review of ideas such as speech act, authority, mediality, performativity and critique of ideology, as tools for the study of the visualization of political violence and war in Latin America.

Photography and Testimony

18If we continue thinking about the context of judgment, we realize that photography is one of the key elements of such situations or contexts. First and foremost, not as a testimony, but as evidence. In positive law and in the legal world, but also within historiography, photography is defined by its capability of working as device for reproducing events that took place beyond the images, in both space and time. Each photograph would thus be a visible storage instance of a past event or occurrence.

  • 19 Barthes, Roland, La cámara lúcida. Notas sobre la fotografía, México, Siglo XXI, 1994, p. 10.

19Extended to the everyday practice of photographs, the ideas of neutrality, transparency, objectivity, accuracy and clarity of the photographic image are largely dominant. This basic visual praxis with images in general, and mainly photographic images, lies in what Roland Barthes called in 1980 the immediate presence of the already vanished, a presence before which we say "this has been" and "it has been thus"19. This principle of transferring reality through the image has a different character as in literature.

  • 20 Barthes discusses this paradox when he writes that photography is a message without code, in Barthe (...)

20Photography is defined as a mark or print of the same nature and light, with all the symbolic weight that this actually has. However, at the same time, we suspect it entails other dimensions: the dimension of construction of meaning, i.e. of possessing the ability to contain a coded message20; the temporary dimension of the image that links it to memory; the dimension of its reproducibility which links it to merchandise; its artistic character; the technological character as the operation of certain equipment; its nature as an object which may be manipulated, stored, destroyed. All these dimensions of photography, and many more that we will not list here, qualify –but do not negate or nullify– the initial power of photography to preserve the vibrancy and vitality of what has been. Hence the constant and justified fear of tampering and counterfeiting, or the conditioning which photography can exercise over spectators who experience visual praxis under the domain of an analogical principle of faith and belief in the image.

21When we do not exclusively consider the situation of judgment, but the broader context of the circulation of images by various contemporary media, the need to compose theoretical systems of attention and study of visual practice is obvious, beyond iconoclastic hysteria or stupor. For this, it is imperative to acknowledge the power or powers of the image, the discrimination between the historical variety and specificity of the uses of photography, and to acknowledge the intermediary tensions linking every image to specific struggles of cultural policy and political culture.

22There is no reason for this not to be recognized as a pending task, also in the case of photography as it pertains to political violence and leftist guerrilla movements active in Latin America during the second half of the twentieth century. The pending task, then, has to do with producing and testing theoretical, analytical and critical systems to visualize these movements beyond the mediatical and especially visual illiteracy of our time, which is expressed in the preeminence of the speculate, analog definition of photography and the image, related to the notion of document or evidence, and also beyond iconoclastic, contemporary and historical alarms and fears.

  • 21 This means, thinking their recognized social power [potestas], recognized social know-how [auctorit (...)

23When we turn from literature to photography to think and review the concept of testimony 21we notice that, in the case of photography, there has been a fixation of visual testimony in legal proceedings, but also and above all in the processes of recovering historical memory and historiographical research, in the sense of fixating the power of photographs as mere proof or illustration. But, beyond the limited understanding of photography as transparent and neutral evidence and illustration, we are forced to acknowledge that seeing war, seeing political violence through images, is a matter of "making see", as noted before about doing or "making justice".

  • 22 To name a few important examples, take the photographic heritage of Susan Meiselas, Koen Wessing, J (...)

24When observing the heritage of images, such as those accumulated from armed conflicts involving left-wing guerrilla movements, we realize that photography is more than proof or illustration. It is also clear that to talk about guerrillas in Latin America is to talk about a specific culture, and also a visual culture22. In this context, the photograph has the power to show us one side as a liberator and the other as "the bad guys". The brutality of war can be stimulated, boggled, embellished or hidden by photography. Photography can be a document or part of the violence; it can be war itself. Photographic images can be consumed in the form of information or in the form of evidence. Photography maintains an unresolved tension between manipulation and revelation, which is transferred to the individual and the community to the extent that we recognize that the images become part of a collective memory (even of a transnational nature).

  • 23 The concept also appears in Henri Lefebvre (1961), Philippe Dubois (1990) and Jan Assmann (1989), a (...)
  • 24 See: Belting, Hans, Bild-Anthropologie, München, Fink, 2001; Bredekamp, Horst, Theorie des Bildakts(...)

25Photography, as we see, is exercised as a technique and an art over a given reality, affecting not only its perception and representation, but also its very constitution as reality. This capacity as agent exerted by photography and every image over reality has been dubbed an image act23 by contemporary image theorists as important as Horst Bredekamp, ​​Thomas Macho, Georges Didi-Huberman, W.J.T. Mitchell, Boris Groys, Hans Belting, Jacques Rancière and Jean-Luc Nancy24.

  • 25 A thorough analysis of this example could shed light on most of the potential extent of the concept (...)

26In the case of the image of war and the display of political violence, the "making see" of the image act has gone through several models and several traditions to finally become the documentary record model. The first proof of this historical deployment is beyond photography itself, in Goya. Goya represents a definite paradigm shift in the history of images of political violence and war, of "making see" the war. His Disasters of War instated an iconography that is still valid today, taking a step forward from the iconography of sacred martyrdom, now in regards to those involved in war and especially to civilians not tied to any faction. This secularization of martyrdom–which decades later finds its highest point in the visual arts in Picasso's Guernica as a representation of asymmetric, not heroic, guerrilla or partisanship warfare–is in the end a sort of anticipation of the photographic optics installed, through their circulation and storage media, in our cultures and memories as the impression of a reality experienced, as visual testimony, apparently with no interest beyond its publication and no moral partisan intentions, in a dry and documentary manner, as the epigraph on plate 44 of Goya's Disasters emphatically shows and states: "I saw it"25.

  • 26 Bredekamp, Horst, Theorie des Bildakts, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2010.
  • 27 See in this regard also: Nancy, Jean-Luc, "La imagen: Mímesis & Méthexis", Escritura e imagen, 2006 (...)

27Horst Bredekamp specifically analyzes, in his Theorie des Bildakts [Image act theory], 201026, the various categories, forms and media of the image act. From here, as from Derrida in the case of oral testimony, a certain symbolic mediation ends up prevailing over the speculative definition of its representation to establish itself as part of the actions or acts of conflict and the social dispute over images27. The statement "I saw it" on Goya's etching, whose subject is problematic due to its ambiguity, is a good example of this social interpellation from the image and its relationship to the natural vividness of the image authorizing it to act within different contexts with huge visual rhetorical power.

28However, with the advent of photography, this idea of documentary record is forced to incorporate combined discussions on the quality of the photographer as witness, the central role of technological devices or equipment involved in capturing, developing, printing, enlarging and exposing images, and the corresponding social, economic, material and medial programs and mechanisms it sponsors. The idea of ​​an objective visual narrative in the form of a testimony by a witness in a positive context of judgment gives way to a tendency toward images adapting to the environment and, in some cases, an uninhibited leaning towards the subjective, the fictional and scenic and the dramatic effect. It is precisely in the 1980s when this change moves photography away from its character of proof and drives it closer to what we described above in the case of literary testimony: an image act.

  • 28 See: Butler, Judith, Frames of War. When Is Life Grievable?, London, Verso, 2009; Sontag, Susan, An (...)

29More recently, and from many different theoretical and political points of view, a sense of urgency has led to questioning the programmatic ideal of an objective and neutral mediation as the goal and key to the success of photographic work. Such questioning can be seen, for example in Susan Sontag and Judith Butler28.

30This urgency is a warning about the possibility and the contemporary danger of standardized atrocity. The whole process reminds us of the possibility of other contexts of judgment, which Derrida spoke of when referring to the speech act and its connection to testimony. One possible response to the threat of reducing every image of violence to a cliché is to open these images to a task that, rather than being part of the problem, allows for other experiences of judgment which stimulate the active role of the observer in the construction of relationships and connections, and against gaps and omissions; i.e. assembling or reinstalling these images as part of a context of judgment to think about our history and our socio-political context and its links to violence, power, action and political struggle. Hence, for example, the gradual prominence of concepts such as series, sequence, installation, exhibition and assembly in contemporary documentary photography.

Image Act and Literary Studies

  • 29 “[…] nimmt diese Spannungsbestimmung auf, um den Impetus in die Außenwelt der Artefakte zu verlager (...)

31Today, there is no doubt that primary areas of collective life consist of visual processes. But these visual processes involve a basic intermedial dimension. The concept of image act is not a simple translation of the concept of speech act, from the verbal to the visual plane. Instead, it is a complementary, necessary and unavoidable term. Symbolic exchanges and the production, mediation, circulation, reception and storage of symbolic objects occur in an intermedial cultural scene. The image, in the image act, does not occupy the place of the word, but the place of the speaker, to regain not the instruments of language but the actors of the speech situation. The image act, in this regard, "[...] makes use of the tensions that the speech act creates to shift the momentum to the external world of the artifact. This change of position involves the insistence of the image on playing from itself an active and proper role in the exchange with the observer [...]”29. The image act is displayed as an impact, from the image, on the sensitivity and perception, the thinking and acting of the observer, the perceiver and the listener.

32The question is what is the force that this impact –the image act– enables or brings forth when perceiving, thinking and acting, by means of observation and contact. That is, what do these images do to us? And what could we do with them? One alternative, legitimized by such critical reviews of testimony, the speech act and the image act, is to continue engaging these images and texts not exclusively in the legal proceedings of dominant law, or by fixing or evidencing facts accumulated by dominant historiography, or the logic of standardization and trivialization of the circulation of images by mass media. Taking the word, signing it and creating an adequation between what is said, what is lived and what is understood, in the case of the testimony, as well as taking the picture, disassembling, assembling and reassembling it, signing it and creating an adequation between what is shown, what is lived and what is understood, is an act, an action which, in certain social and cultural planes–-for example, in educational processes of history and social studies in Latin America–, can produce discourses and representations alternative to the law. This action is part of a social struggle, a social dispute for the word and the image which are the foundations of law and right, and they are another force for insisting, from the speakable and the imaginable, on the impossible experience of justice. This struggle and this emphasis also belong to Central American literary studies as their own brand, but also as their proper task, as long as we observe the social responsibility that accompanies their scientific, academic and cultural pretensions.

Links to exemplary images:

33To see a few important examples, take the photographic heritage of Susan Meiselas, Larry Towell, Don McCullin, Koen Wessing, Jean-Marie Simon and James Nachtwey. We are also considering the heritage that can be found in the chaotic and globally scattered landscape of image files, press files and documents relating to these conflicts in Latin America:

34La Guerrillera Tania:

35“La Guerrillera Tania dispara una foto en 1967, en Ñancahuazú, Bolivia; a la izquierda, el Comandante Guevara” / AFP. Elola, Joseba, 2011, “La misteriosa guerrillera que acompañó al Che”, in Diario El País 15.05.2011, Madrid: http://elpais.com/​diario/​2011/​05/​15/​domingo/​1305431559_850215.html 

36Susan Meiselas:

37Magnum, Susan Meiselas, El Salvador: http://www.magnumphotos.com/​C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535EQH

38Larry Towell:

39Magnum, Larry Towell, El Salvador: http://www.magnumphotos.com/​C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2S5RYDGZB2S

40Don McCullin:

41 “Don McCullin Slideshow”, The Telegraph, United Kingdom, Don McCullin, El Salvador:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/​culture/​photography/​7198430/​Don-McCullin-Slideshow.html?image=3

42Koen Wessing:

43YouTube, Koen Wessing, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala: http://www.youtube.com/​watch?v=wmSxr7acVVo

44Jean-Marie Simon:

45Jean-Marie Simon, Guatemala: http://www.primavera-tirania.com

46James Nachtwey:

47World Press Photo, James Nachtwey, El Salvador: http://www.archive.worldpressphoto.org/​search/​layout/​result/​indeling/​detailwpp/​form/​wpp/​start/​20/​q/​photographer/​James%20Nachtwey/​q/​ishoofdafbeelding/​true

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Terreehorst, Pauline, Ladd, Jeffrey and Wessing, Koen, Koen Wessing: Chili, September 1973, London, Errata Editions, 2010.

Wessing, Koen, Nicaragua '78, Amsterdam, Van Gennep, 1978.

Wessing, Koen and Galeano, Eduardo, De Chile a Guatemala: 10 años América Latina, Managua, Monimbó, 1983a.

Wessing, Koen and Galeano, Eduardo, Von Chile bis Guatemala: 10 Jahre Lateinamerika, Wuppertal, Hammer, 1983b.

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Notes

1 For a more comprehensive and detailed explanation of these premises for the study of the relationship between verbal and visual culture, see: Hernández, Pablo, Imagen-palabra. Lugar, sujeción y mirada en las artes visuales centroamericanas, Madrid/Frankfurt a. M., Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2012b. Hernández, Pablo, "En imágenes y palabras: ¿Qué Centroamérica?", in Beatriz Cortez, Alexandra Ortiz Wallner and Verónica Ríos Quesada (eds.), Hacia una historia de las literaturas centroamericanas. (Per)Versiones de la modernidad. Literaturas, identidades y desplazamientos, Guatemala, F&G Editores, 2012a, p. 435-458.

2 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", trans. Mary Quaintance, in Derrida, J., Acts of Religion, ed. Gil Anidjar, New York, Routledge, 2002, p. 230-298. Dictated in New York in 1989.

3 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", trans. Outi Pasanen, in Sovereignties in Question. The Poetics of Paul Celan, ed. Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen, Fordham University Press, 2005, p. 65-96. Originally published in California in 2000.

4 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 245.

5 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", p. 66.

6 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", p. 68.

7 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 237.

8 For an in-depth study of the issue of testimony in the literatures of Latin America, see: Beverley, John, Testimonio. On the Politics of Truth, Minneapolis / London, University of Minnesota Press, 2004; Centro De Estudios Literarios Antonio Cornejo Polar, "La Voz del Otro: Testimonio, Subalternidad y Verdad Narrativa (Número Especial)", Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, 2do. semestre 1992 1992, vol. XVIII-36), p. ¿-¿; Jara, René and Vidal, Hernán, Testimonio y Literatura, Minneapolis, Prisma, 1986; Randall, Margaret, "¿Qué es, y cómo se hace un testimonio?", Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, 2do. semestre de 1992 1992, vol. XVIII-36-, p. 23-47.

9 In Natural law and human dignity, Ernst Bloch explains the revolutionary possibility of positive law being in a state of exhaustion in certain contexts of judgment, thus revealing its nature as law, but also as a means of exploitation in certain socioeconomic conditions. Bloch defends the idea of ​​a natural law that does not appeal to immutable postulates, but to the historicity of the idea of ​​human dignity and its inherent revolutionary character. Bloch, Ernst, Derecho natural y dignidad humana, Madrid, Dykinson, 2011.

10 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 233.

11 Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", p. 66.

12 Derrida also addresses this constellation of elements in his text “Poetics and Politics of Witnessing”, not coincidentally dedicated to Murray Krieger, one of the leading theorists of ekphrasis, the relationship between images and words, this time to highlight the importance of the fact that witnessing is always "to address the other" in a given linguistic context and situation. Derrida, Jacques, "Poetics and Politics of Witnessing", trans. Outi Pasanen, in Sovereignties in Question. The Poetics of Paul Celan, ed. Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen, Fordham University Press, 2005, p. 86.

13 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 242.

14 In his posthumous book: Austin, John Langshaw, How to do Things with Words, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1962.

15 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 242.

16 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 249.

17 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 247.

18 Derrida, Jacques, Force of Law. The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", p. 244.

19 Barthes, Roland, La cámara lúcida. Notas sobre la fotografía, México, Siglo XXI, 1994, p. 10.

20 Barthes discusses this paradox when he writes that photography is a message without code, in Barthes, Roland, Lo obvio y lo obtuso. Imágenes, gestos, voces, Barcelona, Paidós, 1986, p. 13.

21 This means, thinking their recognized social power [potestas], recognized social know-how [auctoritas] and evidence and clarity [enárgeia].

22 To name a few important examples, take the photographic heritage of Susan Meiselas, Koen Wessing, Jean-Marie Simon and Don McCullin. We are also considering the heritage that can be found in the chaotic and globally scattered landscape of image files, press files and documents relating to these conflicts in Latin America. See: Lubben, Kristen, Susan Meiselas. In History, New York / Göttingen: International Center of Photography / Steidl, 2008; Mattison, Harry, Meiselas, Susan, Arnson, Cynthia and Forché, Carolyn, El Salvador: work of thirty photographers, New York / London, Writers and Readers, 1983; Rosenberg, Claire and Meiselas, Susan, Nicaragua. June 1978 - July 1979, New York, Aperture Foundation / International Center of Photography, 2008; Terreehorst, Pauline, Ladd, Jeffrey and Wessing, Koen, Koen Wessing: Chili, September 1973, London, Errata Editions, 2010; Wessing, Koen, Nicaragua '78, Amsterdam, Van Gennep, 1978; Wessing, Koen and Galeano, Eduardo, De Chile a Guatemala: 10 años América Latina, Managua, Monimbó, 1983a; Wessing, Koen and Galeano, Eduardo, Von Chile bis Guatemala: 10 Jahre Lateinamerika, Wuppertal, Hammer, 1983b; Simon, Jean Marie, Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny, New York, W W Norton & Company Incorporated, 1987; Mccullin, Don, Shaped by War, New York, Jonathan Cape, 2011.

23 The concept also appears in Henri Lefebvre (1961), Philippe Dubois (1990) and Jan Assmann (1989), among other texts by specialists in visual studies such as Beat Wyss and Gottfried Boehm. An exploration of the image in this direction is evident in the contemporary research on religions, archeology, ethnology, social psychology, journalism, sociology and anthropology. See: Assmann, Jan, "Die Macht der Bilder. Rahmenbedingungen ikonischen Handelns im Alten Ägypten", Visible Religion, 1989, vol. 7, p. 1-20.;Bredekamp, Horst, Theorie des Bildakts, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2010; Dubois, Philippe, El acto fotográfico y otros ensayos, Madrid, La marca, 2008; Lefebvre, Henri, Critique de la vie quotidienne: De la modernité au modernisme, tome 3, L'Arche, 1997a ; Lefebvre, Henri, Critique de la vie quotidienne. Fondaments d'une sociologie de la quotidienneté, tome 2, Paris, L'Arche, 1997b ; Lefebvre, Henri, Critique de la vie quotidienne. Introduction, tome 1, Paris, L'Arche, 1997c.

24 See: Belting, Hans, Bild-Anthropologie, München, Fink, 2001; Bredekamp, Horst, Theorie des Bildakts, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp, 2010; Didi-Huberman, Georges, Imágenes pese a todo. Memoria visual del holocausto, Barcelona, Paidós, 2004; Didi-Huberman, Georges, Ante el tiempo. Historia del arte y anacronismo de las imágenes, Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo Editora, 2006; Didi-Huberman, Georges, Cuando las imágenes toman posición, Madrid, Antonio Machado Libros, 2008; Groys, Boris, Topologie der Kunst, München, Carl Hanser, 2003; Macho, Thomas, Vorbilder, München, Wilhelm Fink, 2011; Mitchell, W.J.T., Iconology. Image, Text, Ideology, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1986; Mitchell, W.J.T., Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1994; Mitchell, W.J.T., What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2005; Mitchell, W.J.T., Teoría de la imagen, Madrid, Akal, 2009; Nancy, Jean-Luc, "La imagen: Mímesis & Méthexis", Escritura e imagen, 2006a, vol. 2, p. 7-22; Rancière, Jacques, El espectador emancipado, Buenos Aires, Manantial, 2010.

25 A thorough analysis of this example could shed light on most of the potential extent of the concept of image act applied to the intermedial representation of events of political violence and war. Unfortunately, we do not have the space to do so here.

26 Bredekamp, Horst, Theorie des Bildakts, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2010.

27 See in this regard also: Nancy, Jean-Luc, "La imagen: Mímesis & Méthexis", Escritura e imagen, 2006a, vol. 2, p. 7-22; Nancy, Jean-Luc, La mirada del retrato, Madrid, Amorrortu, 2006b; Nancy, Jean-Luc, La representación prohibida, Madrid, Amorrortu, 2006c; Nancy, Jean-Luc, Las musas, Buenos Aires, Amorrortu, 2008.

28 See: Butler, Judith, Frames of War. When Is Life Grievable?, London, Verso, 2009; Sontag, Susan, Ante el dolor de otros, Madrid, Santillana, 2004.

29 “[…] nimmt diese Spannungsbestimmung auf, um den Impetus in die Außenwelt der Artefakte zu verlagern. In diesem Positionswechsel geht es um die Latenz des Bildes, im Wechselspiel mit dem Betrachter von sich aus eine eigene, aktive Rolle zu spielen […] Im Sinne dieser Frage soll unter dem Bildakt eine Wirkung auf das Empfinden, Denken und Handeln verstanden werden, die aus der Kraft des Bildes und der Wechselwirkung mit dem betrachtenden, berührenden und auch hörenden Gegenüber entsteht.” Bredekamp, Horst, Theorie des Bildakts, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2010, p. 52.

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Référence électronique

Pablo Hernández Hernández, « Justice and Testimony between Image and Word. Foundations for a Photographic Study of Guerrilla Movements in Central America », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [En ligne], Images, mémoires et sons, mis en ligne le 09 juin 2014, consulté le 22 octobre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/nuevomundo/66886 ; DOI : 10.4000/nuevomundo.66886

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Auteur

Pablo Hernández Hernández

Department of Philosophy, University of Costa Rica; jose.hernandezhernandez[at]ucr.ac.cr

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