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Iconic violence: belief, law and the visual

Kayman, Martin A. ORCID: 2018. Iconic violence: belief, law and the visual. Textual Practice 32 (1) , pp. 139-161. 10.1080/0950236X.2016.1249710

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In early 2015, the attacks provoked by cartoons of the Prophet and the execution videos released by Islamic State staged a bloody encounter between two aesthetics of the image and two visions of its law. The confrontation between caricature and documentary realism and between blasphemy and freedom of expression form the context for this inquiry into the violence associated with beliefs about images. Violence can arise not only as a result of religious beliefs but equally from the contribution of visual evidence to secular convictions. The article shows how recent reassessments of the ethics of ‘law and the visual’ draw on the emancipatory discourses of the ‘pictorial turn’ and its recourse to the discourse of the early iconoclastic debates. The key legacy of the Byzantine debates, I argue, is less a theory of the image as the polemical identification of the iconoclast and the idolater and the management of the violent passions they evoke for each other. What is ultimately at issue in laws governing relations between seeing and believing are the attitudes people have to those who do not share their regime of the visual, and which, at times of crisis, can revive passions associated with veneration and execration.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Uncontrolled Keywords: Law and the visual; cartoons of the Prophet; the pictorial turn; iconoclasm
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 0950-236X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 October 2016
Date of Acceptance: 20 September 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 05:32

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