This blog periodically cites the work of Ariella Azoulay, whom we consider one of the most important writers on photography in our time. Azoulay directs the Photo-Lexic project at the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University. She is the author of Civil Imagination: Political Ontology of Photography (forthcoming), The Civil Contract of Photography (2008), Once Upon a Time: Photography Following Walter Benjamin (2006) and Death’s Showcase: The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy (2001). She has received the 2002 Infinity Award for Writing, presented by the International Center for Photography for excellence in the field of photography.
This month Pluto Press has released From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950. The work is the most recent articulation of a continuously unfolding project of critical exegesis on behalf of democratic citizenship. Azoulay’s analysis of ordinary photographs from both state and private archives explicates the administrative mechanisms and tragic consequences defining the early period of Israeli state formation. In place of the myth of the state, Azoulay exposes the architecture of the regime-made disaster, a distinctive mode of power that can co-exist with but ultimately undermines democracy.