Animism, haunted images and the return of the repressed in Photography and Cinema

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Photography and cinema were crossed by two different ontologies since their beginnings: on one side, they to bring reality into the senses, producing ‘documents’ and, as so, had an apodictical status; on the other side photography, but also cinema in a different way, appeared as haunted images (Gunning 1995). Photography produced ‘doubles’ and cinema was seen through projection, recalling a sort of hallucinated experience, as Epstein and Barthes had underlined. I would like to state that both, photography and cinema, seem to have been, all along the xx century, the privileged place for the denying of the rationality and civilized progress that modernism so intensely fought for. Recalling Bruno Latour thesis that ‘we were never been modern’, I will point out through images and critical texts from the beginning of xx century (Epstein, Morin, Barthes), the ways in which photography and cinema remained the place for the return of repressed, the open door to the unconscious to come to surface. In this context, animism will be a crucial concept to work out the process of ‘savage thinking’ and the haunting presence of the two media.
Period6 May 2021
Held atUniversidade Católica, Porto , Portugal


  • Cinema
  • specters
  • Photography
  • Ghosts
  • Hauntology