Opposite of a Document
"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." - Albert Camus
Lemonade Syllabus
Time for Student Evaluations!











Susan Sontag described this image as the "opposite of a document." "We don’t get it. We truly can’t imagine what it was like. We can’t imagine how dreadful, how terrifying war is; and how normal it becomes."
- Susan Sontag in Regarding the Pain of Others
Jeff Wall, Dead Troops Talk (A Vision After An Ambush of a Red Army Patrol, Near Moqor, Afghanistan, Winter 1986), 1991 - 1992.












Chris Burden, Reason for the Neutron Bomb, 1979.











Alfredo Jaar, The Eyes of Gutete Emerita, 1996.
"'[Alfredo Jaar's Rwanda Project] address[es] a crisis of the image, and in our relation to images, that Paul Virilio has called "a sort of pathology of immediate perception that owes everything, or very nearly everything, to the recent proliferation of photo-cinematographic and video-infographic seeing machines; machines that by mediatizing ordinary everyday representations end up destroying their credibility.' As we become increasingly subject to images, the subject of any image becomes less and less available to us. Must we turn away from images entirely in order to begin again? ... We live in a time when information, in the form of words and images, is being transmitted in vast quantities and at increasingly high speeds, and this mass and velocity determine its effects. Human beings cannot act on information transmitted in this way, but only attmept to retrieve, sort, and process it." - David Levi Strauss











“That we are not totally transformed, that we can turn away, turn the page, switch the channel, does not impugn the ethical value of an assault by images. It is not a defect that we are not seared, that we do not suffer enough, when we see these images. Neither is the photograph supposed to repair our ignorance about the history and causes of the suffering it picks out and frames. Such images cannot be more than an invitation to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, to examine the rationalizations for mass suffering offered by established powers. Who caused what the picture shows? Who is responsible? Is it excusable? Was it inevitable? Is there some state of affairs which we have accepted up to now that ought to be challenged? All this, with the understanding that moral indignation, like compassion, cannot dictate a course of action.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others










Alfredo Jaar, The Silence of Nduwayezu, 1997.











“Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers. The question of what to do with the feelings that have been aroused, the knowledge that has been communicated. If one feels that there is nothing 'we' can do -- but who is that 'we'? -- and nothing 'they' can do either -- and who are 'they' -- then one starts to get bored, cynical, apathetic.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Alfredo Jaar, The Sound of Silence (detail), 1995.












Conflict Café











"By means of a sophisticated composition of the cleverly staged scene the U.S. government breaks with the long historical and cultural-political tradition of publicly displaying the slain war opponent. The days of "seeing is believing" are over. Obama asked the public to believe without seeing. Because seeing in this case would involve catastrophic risks and dangers - as the President publicly stated." - Nafas Art Magazine










“War has been the norm and peace the exception.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Jenny Holzer, Selection from The Survival Series, 1983 - 1985.












“Indeed, the very first acknowledgment (as far as I am aware) of the attraction of mutilated bodies occurs in a founding description of mental conflict. It is a passage in The Republic, Book IV, where Plato’s Socrates describes how our reason may be overwhelmed by an unworthy desire, which drives the self to become angry with a part of its nature.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Nina Berman, Tyler and Renee (from the Marine Wedding series), 2006.










Nina Berman, Marine Sgt. Tyler Ziegel, 2006.










Nina Berman, Ty with Gun, 2006.










“The concern is that the images to be devised won't be sufficiently upsetting: not concrete, not detailed enough. Pity can entail a moral judgement if, as Aristotle maintains, pity is considered to be the emotion that we owe only to those enduring undeserved misfortune. But pity, far from being the natural twin of fear in the dramas of catastrophic misfortune, seems diluted — distracted — by fear, while fear (dread, terror) usually manages to swamp pity. Leonardo is suggesting that the artist's gaze be, literally, pitiless. The image should appall, and in that terribilità lies a challenging kind of beauty.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Elizabeth Neel, Pintura, 2008.











“People don't become inured to what they are shown - if that's the right way to describe what happens - because of the quantity of images dumped on them. It is passivity that dulls feeling. The states described as apathy, moral or emotional anesthesia, are full of feelings; the feelings are rage and frustration." — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Alfredo Jaar, May, 2011.