The main objective of this text is to engage in the discussion on images and violence. My aim is to build on and intervene in the debate, through what I am calling ‘the slow violence of images’.

One of the concerns behind this study is the body of images that was produced and mediatised during the US and UK-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, and the years of War of Aggression that ensued. For a while now, I have been interested in investigating the ultimate consequences of the “image” of Iraq that was created during this period. More specifically, through this paper I want to demonstrate that the violence of war is not only physical and direct, but that images play a crucial role in preparing, and indeed in enacting the violence of war. My motivation for this inquiry is not simply because both my parents are Iraqi. More significantly, it is because my own relationship to Iraq, as for most people and to most places, is one that is defined by mediatised images.

The case that I am advocating is one that argues for the power of images, rather than against it. As will become clear throughout this writing, I am convinced of the impact images have on the way we understand and perceive our world, and specifically on the way in which we position ourselves politically.

As many of the authors discussed in this text argue, power and hegemony – whether political, social or economic – is always also a power and hegemony of the image and the way in which image production and circulation is governed. The stakes are high, and it is no longer acceptable to simply write off images as ineffective and desensitising. As is evidenced through the multiple voices explored in this paper, these common misunderstandings about the force of images can be clarified. Ultimately, my aim is to move beyond these repeated claims by contributing to an understanding of the slow violence of images.


‘Occupy Baghdad’

As a place, one could argue that Iraq has always been geographically suspended. The construction of the state of Iraq was a British imperial enterprise, part of an “international” commission by the League of Nations. [1]In that sense, Baudrillard’s claim that the Gulf War of 1990 “did not take place” outside the virtual realm, [2] might be true at the very least because Iraq itself, never existed independent of the British imaginary. To echo Edward Said, of course, we should add that no nation exists outside of narration, [3] that is: outside of the imaginary. What does exist is a web of political and mainly economical and often imperialist interests of various powers.

Recently, I have been concerned with a subsequent and more recent instance of geographic suspension, namely one that was created by the mass production, mediatisation, circulation and subsequent consumption of the image of Iraq.

As part of a long-term artistic project titled Occupy Baghdad, [4] I have suggested that since the Iraq War, ‘Baghdad’ is no longer limited to its borders. One could even say that the mediatised invasion has “freed” it from the privacy of its actual inhabitants, and brought it into publicity. As such, I have argued that ‘Baghdad’ has become a public good. Following this line of thought, I have claimed that we have now all become inhabitants of this place, by way of manufacturing and consuming its mediatised images. As consumers, co-producers, and eventually, co-owners of this mediatised reality, we have a shared responsibility for our public good.

Artists, journalists, and ordinary citizens have all contributed to the production and mass circulation of certain images of Iraq and its people. [5] What I am concerned with here, is not these individual producers or single images. Rather, it is what the culmination and mass circulation of images slowly engenders in terms of harmful and violent consequences to the people and cultural heritage of Iraq.

Images may be comprised of recognisable visual characteristics, as well as conceptions and interpretations that frame the images as part of their circulation. In all of these cases, my conviction is that these images, although sometimes seemingly benign and insignificant in themselves, put together over the course of time they amount to a particular perspective indeed. It might be a slow process, that is, imperceptible in one gesture or one image, but it all amounts to an exponentially expanding body of images that has and will continue to determine the fate of the Iraqi people, culture and human condition. Whether it holds some truth or not, the image of Iraq that is constructed over time will determine political action, for better or worse. Thus, I believe, deconstruction and consciousness of this image-making process is a necessarily political act, which we must be engaged in at all times.

Inhabiting a Suspended Geography: Questions of Responsibility

The concept of ‘imaginative geographies’ that evolved out of the work of Edward Said – where ‘imagined’ is used not to mean ‘false’, but rather ‘perceived’ – refers to the perception of space created through certain images, texts or discourses. [6]

Imaginative geographies, as Derek Gregory points out, are colonial constructions that “serve to demarcate ‘the same’ from ‘the other’,” whereby the other’s “unfamiliar space” is seen as the inverse of “our familiar” space: “a sort of negative, in the photographic sense that ‘they’ might develop into something like 'us’.” [7]

As another author has observed, following Said’s argument, “the ‘War on Terror’ shows a continuation of the same imagined geographies that Said uncovered.” Furthermore, the Arab world is “portrayed as uncivilised and is labelled as backward and failing. This justifies, in the view of those imagining, the military intervention that has been seen in Afghanistan and Iraq.” [8] Here, we see the role that images play not only in ‘imagining’ a place, one way or the other, but in actually using this imaginary to justify invasions and illegal wars.

In an attempt to rethink the violence of images and a possible way forward, I wondered: If the proliferation of images of Iraq has ‘lifted Iraq from its geographic location’ and suspended it into a shared, virtual geography — in what ways could we move from a ‘virtual occupation’ towards a ‘virtual co-habitation’ of Iraq? Could we speak of a new world-citizenry of Iraq, and what could this possibly entail in terms of the rights and responsibilities of us, as citizens? Furthermore, in what ways are to understand our implication with images and violence, and what could be at stake? To what extent are we obliged to respond, to take responsibility, for the images that surround us?

One response may be found in Ariella Azoulay’s The Civil Contract of Photography. [9] Simply put, the framework of the so-called ‘civil contract of photography’ entails an unspoken pact that binds the photographer, the photographed subject and the spectator. Rather than offer conclusive answers, however, Azoulay’s study opens up more questions that are nonetheless worth pondering over. One of those questions pertains to the elements that the contract of photography binds together: the photographer, the person photographed and the person eventually watching the photograph. The contract poses that the photograph does not belong exclusively to any of these persons, as they are all implicated in the means of production of the photographic product. It is unclear however whether this contract would also be applicable in the case of a photographed environment, rather than a photographed person. Even more complicated is the question of a photographed event, particularly those events of interest in this investigation: manmade events of violent and catastrophic nature.

Another response regarding our implication with images might be found elsewhere. In the introduction to her book on the effects of mass media on collective cultural memory, [10] Alison Landsberg describes the emergence of what she calls a ‘prosthetic memory’ as follows: “[New] technologies like the cinema, along with the emergence of a commodified mass culture, transformed memory by making possible an unprecedented circulation of images and narratives.” [11] She continues to observe that “the person does not simply apprehend a historical narrative but takes on a more personal, deeply felt memory of a past event through which he or she did not live.” [12] Additionally, she describes that these types of memories are “transportable and therefore challenge more traditional forms of memory that are premised on claims of authenticity, ‘heritage’, and ownership.” These memories, she continues, are “neither inherently progressive nor reactionary,” but we should “recognise their power and political potential.” Most significantly, with regards to what we are concerned with here, she describes that this type of memory “has the ability to shape that person’s subjectivity and politics.” [13]

If, following Landsberg’s elaboration, we were to tap into the political potential of this mediated memory, we might be able to look into some of the “unexpected alliances” that it could produce. These unexpected alliances, I believe, could in turn bring forth a trans-national subject; one that is no longer informed through and tied to a so-called nation or specific geographic location. As Landsberg notes earlier in her text, “through the technologies of mass culture, it becomes possible for these memories to be acquired by anyone, regardless of skin colour, ethnic background, or biology.” [14]

This view makes it possible to imagine a trajectory in which images of certain events become widely accessible by means of mass media, thus turning them into another kind of ‘imagined geography’. In shaping people’s subjectivities and politics, this might significantly disrupt the normative understanding – and perhaps the functioning – of geographic affiliation, and thereby of solidarity and action.


It seems to me that a discussion of images today invariably becomes a discussion of images in relation to violence. As we know, there are many, well-rehearsed arguments in these discussions, some of them more common than others. Most of these arguments, regardless of their final claim, begin by addressing the pervasiveness of images in our current age of mass media, social networks and accelerating technology. Apparently, as it is often said, we have become oversaturated with images. We see thousands of images every day, and thereby their effect and affect has diminished. We have become desensitised by images, and they have made us into passive beings.

These positions, as noted by many authors, are not exactly new. One article dates a similar critique that sounds strangely familiar, back to the 1930s: “Today the eye of modern man is daily, hourly overfed with images. In nearly every newspaper he opens, in every magazine, in every book—pictures, pictures, and more pictures.... Each new picture drives away the previous one. ... The result—in spite of the hunger for new visual impressions—is a dulling of the senses. To put it bluntly: the more modern man is given to see, the less he experiences in seeing. He sees much too much to still be able to see consciously and intensively.” [1]

What could it possibly mean that a phrase as familiar to us as this one was uttered before the advent of television, computers, and the Internet? Could it really be true that our ability to be affected by images had already diminished in the 1930s, and has stayed the same ever since? It appears to me as somewhat of a discrepancy that we should still retort to these types of findings, while we at the same time seem to agree that the proliferation and use of images has increased exponentially in our age of mass media and the Internet.

Even more recent contributions simply continue along the same lines, such as the much-discussed opinions held by Susan Sontag, that I elaborate later on. What is of great concern in my view is not so much the arguments that authors such as Sontag have put forward, in their otherwise extremely valuable contributions to the discourses of photography and media representation. Rather, it is the blind appropriation and gross simplification of their arguments in current debates, which completely disregards new critical perspectives.

To be clear, other views do exist and are widely circulated, for instance through the writings of Judith Butler in her 2009 book Frames of War, [2] in which she critically voices her concerns towards Sontag’s position on images versus narratives; or Jacques Rancière in The Emancipated Spectator,3 published in the same year, wherein he specifically looks at the use of violent imagery within artistic and documentary practices. But it seems that despite these voices there is something of an automated response to the question of images and violence that has been unconsciously rehearsed, and is still being performed time and again. Thus it appears that a continuous and collective re-examination of these positions is crucial if we seek to understand the latent power of the images that surround us and shape our (virtual) reality, for better or for worse.

In an essay titled “Image and Violence” 4 Jean-Luc Nancy observes that we have grown accustomed to the idea that “images are violent,” seeing that we are quick to assert that we are constantly being “bombarded” by a stream of images. Secondly, Nancy points out that, “images of violence, of the ceaseless violence breaking out all over the world, are omnipresent,” while at the same time they are “indecent, shocking, necessary, heartrending.” [5]

In accordance, French philosopher and political theorist Jacques Rancière argues in the essay “The Intolerable Image” [7] that in order to understand the official system of information, we “must challenge the received opinion that this system drowns us in a flood of images in general, and images of horror in particular, thereby rendering us insensitive to the banalized reality of these horrors.” [6] These arguments have become accepted, he says, because they associate the “evil of images” with their actual amount.

Slow Violence

In a talk delivered in March 2013, [8] Rob Nixon recounts listening to a radio news broadcast, where some activists were interviewed in relation to a deforestation assault on indigenous lands. Some of the people involved in that got killed. Nixon recounts that one of the activists speaking of his comrades who had died, said: “Those people were dead to the eye before they were killed.” [9]

In his book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Nixon aims to unsettle some of the dominant assumptions about violence, or what we think of as violence. [10]

According to Nixon, we are accustomed to conceive of violence as “an event or action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space, and as erupting into instant sensational visibility.” [11] Instead, he says we need to think through the challenges posed by the relative invisibility of what he calls ‘slow violence’. In his words, this is a “violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales.” [12]

Elsewhere, Nixon poses a simple question: “What is a war casualty?” The answer to this question, he says, “appears painfully obvious and it asserts itself less through argument than through photographs.” [13] Nixon continues by describing gruesome images that could instantly be recognised as relating to war casualties: “a torso shredded by a roadside bomb; a bloodied peasant spread-eagled in a ditch; a soldier, cigarette dangling nonchalantly, crashing his boot into a dead woman’s head.” [14] But these types of images, as Nixon argues, only account for “immediate, visually arresting fatalities.” Other casualties, those that “do not fit the photographic stereotypes,” or that “occur long after major combat has been concluded ... whose belatedness and dispersal make them resistant to dramatic packaging,” they are not accounted for by sensational images. “The media, in thrall to speed and spectacle, lacks the attention span to follow war-inflicted catastrophes that take years or generations to exact their toll.” [15]

The notion of slow violence, which is necessarily oxymoronic, poses a representational challenge that is largely temporal in nature: “In the long arc between the emergence of slow violence and its delayed effects, both the causes and the memory of catastrophe readily fade from view as the casualties incurred typically pass untallied and unremembered.” [16]

Adapting this thesis to the context of images, therefore, requires an exploration of the gradual and accumulative violence of the image. This type of violence, as we have seen, runs counter to a spectacular violence and has no direct causal chain. The delayed effect of slow violence is has also been understood as ‘field causality’, another term to emerge at the intersection between environmentalist and spatio- political studies. [17] According to Eyal Weizman, architect and founder of the Centre for Research Architecture in London, “field causality does not seek to connect a chain of events. Instead, causes are understood as diffused aggregates that act simultaneously in all directions.” [18] These diffused aggregates result in “indirect killing, which occurs more slowly and not by direct trauma such as bullet holes or machete wounds.” [19]

The Slow Violence of Images

The slow violence of images is created through a distributed system. The media plays a role; contemporary artists play a role; the proliferation of images; institutional apparatuses; western media discourses; questions of orientalism; to name but a few factors that together create a condition of slow violence. There is no singular culprit for the complicity of images in the waging of war. In Nixon’s words: “To confront slow violence is to take up, in all its temporal complexity, the politics of the visible and the invisible.” [20]

The slow violence of images takes Rob Nixon's understanding of violence and applies it to images, which poses an apparent paradox. Nixon conceives of slow violence as a “violence that occurs gradually and out of sight.” [21] But while the gradual quality is fully applicable to the slow violence of images I am speaking about, this kind of violence obviously occurs in ‘plain view’. Nixon’s plea requires an engagement with a different kind of violence than the one we are accustomed to. This is a violence that, according to him, is “neither spectacular nor instantaneous,” which necessitates that we face the challenges the “relative invisibility of slow violence.” [22]

Nixon claims that there is, and has been, a “representational bias against slow violence” that has had a “dangerous impact on what counts as a casualty in the first place.” [23] This brings back to mind Judith Butler's elaboration on the ways in which some lives are rendered ‘grievable’ in death and other lives that are not. Her position, which I elaborate in the last chapter, is that a life that is not grievable in death, or does not “count as a casualty” as Nixon puts it, was never considered to be a “life” before death. [24] In asking, “How do we both make slow violence visible yet also challenge the privileging of the visible?” [25] he urges that in order to address the representational challenges that slow violence poses, we must not only engage the question of "who counts as a casualty" but also the issue of “who counts as a witness.” [26] This shows something of the complex politics of what constructs the ‘visible’ as such, before it can be perceived.

Undoing the Privilege of Visibility

A few questions that are yet to be answered with regards Nixon’s thesis are: How does one begin to measure the effects of this violence, when it has spread exponentially? Can anyone be held responsible for this type of slow violence?

Additionally, there seems to be something missing from Nixon’s thesis, that is of course the notion of invisibility despite, or perhaps thanks to visibility. I think it is crucial to add that images render visible, as much as they render invisible. This becomes clear when one thinks with Judith Butler, and her elaboration of the “frame” through which one sees, and indeed, fails to see, in her words: “Not seeing in the midst of seeing.” [27] As she maintains, “it is our inability to see what we see that is of critical concern. To learn to see the frame that blinds us is no easy matter. And if there is a critical role for visual culture during times of war it is precisely to thematise the forcible frame, the one that conducts the dehumanizing norm, that restricts what is perceivable, and indeed, what can be.” [28]

Thinking in terms of the slow violence of images thus poses an interesting, but hopefully a generative problem. The problem resides in the apparent paradox of bringing together the concept of slow violence with the concept of images. Slow violence, as developed by Rob Nixon, is inherently difficult, if not impossible, to visualise. Images, on the other hand, are inherently visual. So what could be meant by the slow violence of images? And why is thinking in terms of the slow violence of images useful?

For one thing, I believe it offers a way of understanding images differently, particularly images in the context of violent conflicts and wars. It requires a different approach altogether, beginning with a temporal aspect. A ‘slow’ violence of images breaks with any notion or expectation of immediate effect. It informs us of the delayed consequences of a latent violence of images as well as warns against the danger of accumulative effects. Understanding the slow violence of images thus necessitates an approach that takes into consideration the temporal dimension of images and their circulation.

Slow Violence and Spectacular Violence

A distinction that needs to be made, is the one between slow violence and spectacular violence. In order to distinguish between the two, we must find out more about the nature of the spectacle. In his much-referenced book, The Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Rancière begins by dissecting often-held views in the eyes of those who are “opposed” to notions of spectatorship. [29] These views, he explains, have emerged for two reasons, namely because spectatorship is usually understood both as the opposite of knowing (due to the spectator's state of “unknowing both the process of production of [the] appearance,” i.e. spectacle and “the reality that it conceals”) as well as the opposite of acting (because of the spectator's rather literal immobility by virtue of “passively” remaining seated in her chair). [30]

“To be a spectator,” in view of its critics, “is to be separated from both the capacity to know and the power to act.” [31] This, Rancière explains, has two different outcomes, the first being that the spectacle is deemed to be an “absolutely bad thing”: a scene of illusion and passivity, which should instead make place for what it obscures, namely “knowledge and action.” According to those seeking to make manifest this shift from passive to active spectatorship, what we need is a kind of “theatre without spectators, whereby those in attendance learn from as opposed to being seduced by images,” thereby subverting their usual position of being “passive voyeurs.” [32]

This 'theatre without spectators' may be established through two conflicting approaches. There is the approach whereby the spectator should be made to empathise with the subjects being portrayed by identifying with them and through being shown a “strange, unusual spectacle, a mystery whose meaning she must seek out.” This in turn will compel her to become an active spectator as opposed to a passive one, who can begin to think for herself and engage in an “evaluation of reasons.” [33]

The second approach demands that any and all distance be abolished, including the distance needed for this “reasoning” quality that is desired in the first approach. In this case, the spectator “must abdicate the very position of viewer.” [34]

What exactly is this spectacle that needs to be avoided at all costs? For Guy Debord, infamous Situationist and author of the 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle, the essence of the spectacle, as summed up by Rancière, is “exteriority”: “The spectacle is the reign of vision and vision is exteriority – that is, self-dispossession.” [35]

This dispossession refers to the separation of the “appearance” from its “truth”. In the spectacle, we “contemplate” that truth, or reality, from which we have become dispossessed, turning that dispossession into our very reality.36 In other words, the spectacular is that through which we can experience the reality from which we have become dispossessed.


“Narratives can make us understand. Photographs do something else: they haunt us,” said Sontag. [1] Was she right when she claimed that images of violence alone do not move us to make changes us as narratives do, they do not tell us how to act politically, and therefor eventually stifle us? In “The Intolerable Image”, Rancière presents us with what he recognizes as a false distinction between two kinds of representations when it comes to violent and ‘intolerable’ images. The first is the visible image – which, as he argues, is mainly associated with proof – and the second is the spoken narrative – which tends to be associated with testimony. Working through several examples that deal with extreme atrocities and their representability, he notes a prevalent separation between the so-called “virtue of testimony from the indignity of proof,” [2] which favours the spoken narrative over the visible image. Rancière objects – as do I – to the opposition between these two supposedly different forms of representation, as he does not regard them as being opposite as all: “Representation is not the act of producing a visible form, but the act of offering an equivalent – [which is] something that speech does just as much as photographs.” [3]

It is important to note how outrage at violent images and videos that contain graphic content is usually only directed at their presence as images, that is, at their visual manifestation in the public realm, and not necessarily at the actual violence that is acted out within them. There seems to be a call to stop the image of violence, but not the violence itself. Apparently, as long as we do not have to see it and the image does not do violence to us, it is almost as if it is not happening at all.

The Sensible, the Grievable and the Invisible

“If horror is banalized, it is not because we see too many images of it. We do not see too many suffering bodies on the screen. But we do see too many nameless bodies, too many bodies incapable of returning the gaze that we direct at them, too many bodies that are the objects of speech without themselves having a chance to speak.” [4] In addition to this observation by Rancière, I would like to note that we do not see too many nameless bodies that are of “Western” origins. But we do see too many too many nameless bodies from “non-Western” origins. Even without images, a “Western body” in a “Western” news story is an individual, has a first and last name, a profession, a family, and a history. But “non-Western bodies” in “Western” news stories are rough numbers, without names, without professions, without families and without histories. [5]

In death, some bodies will always only appear as ‘living’ in images. These bodies will never appear as a ‘dead’ body, a corpse, deformed, injured, maimed, decapitated, bloody, dirty and dispensable. Their image, in death, is always one of life. An image of happiness, stature, innocence, civilization, humanity, and resemblance. An image accompanied by a name, and a history.

In death, other bodies will always only appear as ‘dead’ in images. These bodies will never appear as anything other than a ‘dead’ or dying body, a corpse, deformed, injured, maimed, decapitated, bloody, dirty, and always dispensable. Their image, in death, is an image of death. An image of misery, of the long dying, of terror, barbarity, inhumanity and non-resemblance. They are unnamed, and without history. The image of these bodies is always one of death, even long before death itself. In life, they are already the long dying, the ungrievable.

As Butler asserts, “specific lives cannot be apprehended as injured or lost if they are not first apprehended as living. If certain lives do not qualify as lives or are, from the start, not conceivable as lives within certain epistemological frames, then these lives are never lived nor lost in the full sense.” [6] She further clarifies the politics of grievability as follows: “The future anterior, ‘a life has been lived,’ is presupposed at the beginning of a life that has only begun to be lived. In other words, ‘this will be a life that will have been lived’ is the presupposition of a grievable life, which means that this will be a life that can be regarded as a life, and be sustained by that regard. Without grievability, there is no life, or, rather, there is something living that is other than life. Instead, ‘there is a life that will never have been lived,’ sustained by no regard, no testimony, and ungrieved when lost. The apprehension of grievability precedes and makes possible the apprehension of precarious life. Grievability precedes and makes possible the apprehension of the living being as living.” [7]

While Nixon speaks about the “environmentally dispossessed” and the challenges to narrate and visualise their “media-marginalized causes,” [8] I want to suggest that, through Butler and Rancière, it could be productive to speak about the visually dispossessed. In his essay Rancière discusses, among other things, the differences between “the intolerable in the image” and “the intolerability of the image.” [9] This difference can be interpreted as the difference between seeing the Abu Ghraib photographs and find the depicted acts intolerable, versus seeing the same photographs and find the depiction itself intolerable. In the former instance, the violence being done to the victim is unacceptable to the viewer, in the latter the image as image itself is unacceptable, and the violence is thus being done to the viewer.

Image Fatigue

We have observed in this chapter that the prevailing mode of ‘image fatigue’ that had overwhelmed prominent theorists like Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard and Susan Sontag, has been growing to be tiresome in its turn. Their argument, claiming that the abundance of images has taken its toll on our ability to ‘respond’, is an irresponsible one to defend. As Ariella Azoulay points out, this line of thought has served as an excuse to unleash the burden of looking. She explains that the basic gesture of looking itself is a responsibility that these authors neglected by proclaiming that “viewers’ eyes had grown unseeing.” [10] Here, the responsibility of the person who sees does not lie in the ‘ability’ to ‘respond’ to an image, or to be moved into action after seeing it. The responsibility of the spectator lies in the very act of seeing what he sees.

Although that which appears as an image seems to have a clear advantage over that which does not appear as an image, the problem of invisibility applies to both cases. As we have observed, there can be such a thing as a blindness to seeing, which manifests itself less through the senses (i.e., to perceive with our eyes) as through sensibility. The privilege attached to visibility, therefore, is not as significant as is often believed. Consequently, what is truly needed is a practice of sensibility that can somehow act against the accumulative effect of the slow violence of images. This is a practice that does not simply seek to gain visibility for what is invisible, or to gain spectators for by rendering spectacular.

Perhaps we should indeed call upon artists and art institutions to take seriously their unique position within the field of art, namely, having a space in which the conditions of image making can be perceived. These conditions, and the visual products they produce, can be seen as part of a historical process, as a history that is continuous, rather than composed of seemingly unconnected instances and eternal ‘nows’. A practice is needed that, besides making apprehensible, can at the very least point to the ‘gaps’, without necessarily rushing to fill them.


1. Suspended Geography

1. “Iraq Profile,” BBC. 14546763 (Accessed 3 June 2014).

2. Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, (Sydney: Power Publications, 1995).

3. Said is in turn invoking post-colonial theorist and critic Homi K. Bhabha. See: Edward. W. Said, Culture and Imperialism, (London: Vintage, 1994) p.viii.

4. Urok Shirhan, Occupy Baghdad, 2012-2014. The project encompasses different chapters, such as the video Remake of Paul Chan’s ‘Baghdad in No Particular Order’ (2012) and the participatory performance Membership of the Occupation of Iraq (2013) that took place during Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works Forum VI in Beirut, Lebanon. See also

5. Among others, Memorial to the Iraq War at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, 2007; Jeremy Deller’s It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq at the New Museum in New York, 2009; and, most recently Welcome to Iraq, the Iraq Pavilion in the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013, restaged at the South London Gallery in 2014.

6. Mohamed Hamoud Kassim Al-Mahfedi, “Edward Said’s ‘Imaginative Geography’ and Geopolitical Mapping: Knowledge/Power Constellation and Landscaping Palestine,” The Criterion: An International Journal in English, Vol. II. Issue III, September 2011, pp. 115-140. Available from, (Accessed 26 May 2014).

7. Derek Gregory, The Colonial Present: Afghanistan. Palestine. Iraq. , (Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2004), p. 17.

8. Al-Mahfedi, “Edward Said’s ‘Imaginative Geography’,” p. 124.

9. Ariella Azoulay, The Civil Contract of Photography,. (New York: Zone Books, 2008).

10. Alison Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture, (New York: Columbia University, 2004).

11. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, p. 3.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. .Ibid.., p. 2.

2. The Slow Violence of Images

1. Paul Westheim, “Bildermüde?”, Das Kunstblatt 16 (March 1932), pp. 20- 22. In: “Photographic anxiety: should we worry about image abundance?” David Campbell, 12 July 2011, anxiety-should-we-worry-about-image-abundance (Accessed 2 August 2014).

2. Judith Butler, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (Brooklyn, New York: Verso, 2009).

3. Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator. Translated by Gregory Elliott. (Brooklyn, New York: Verso, 2011 [2008]).

4. Jean-Luc Nancy, “Image and Violence” in The Ground of the Image, trans. Jeff Fort. (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), pp. 15-26.

5. Nancy, “Image and Violence,” p. 15.

6. Jacques Rancière, “The Intolerable Image” in The Emancipated Spectator, trans. Gregory Elliott. (Brooklyn, New York: Verso, 2011 [2008]) pp. 83-105.

7. Rancière, “The Intolerable Image,” p. 96.

8. Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor,” lecture presented at FHI, Duke University, 27 March 2013. Available from (Accessed May 28, 2014).

9. Nixon, “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor,” lecture.

10. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: Harvard University Press, 2013).

11. Nixon, Slow Violence, p. 2.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid., p. 200.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., p. 89.

17. See also Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth, Forensic Architecture (eds.), (New York, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014).

18. Eyal Weizman, in conversation with Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin. “Matters of Calculation: The Evidence of the Anthropocene.” In Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy. Edited by Etienne Turpin. (Michigan: Open Humanities Press, 2013), pp. 63-81.

19. Weizman, “Matters of Calculation,” pp. 76-77.

20. Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 June 2011, (Accessed 24 May 2014).

21. Nixon, Slow Violence, p. 2. My emphasis.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid., p. 13.

24. Judith Butler, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (Brooklyn, New York: Verso, 2009), p. 1.

25. Nixon, Slow Violence, p. 15.

26. Ibid., p. 16.

27. Butler, Frames of War, p. 100.

28. Ibid.

32. Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, trans. Gregory Elliott. (Brooklyn, New York: Verso, 2011 [2008]).

33. Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, p. 2.

34. Ibid.

34. Ibid
., pp. 3-4.

35. Ibid., p. 4.

36. Ibid., p. 5.

3. Regarding Slow Violence

1. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (London: Penguin Books,
2003), p. 80.

2. Rancière, “The Intolerable Image,” p. 89.

3. Ibid., p. 93.

4. Rancière, “The Intolerable Image,” p. 96.

5. For another case in point, see also the “Faces of the Fallen” project, an interactive database of ‘fallen’ US soldiers during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Washington Post, (Accessed 5 July 2014).

6. Butler, Frames of War, p. 1.

7. Ibid.

8. Nixon, Slow Violence, p. 5.

9. Rancière, “The Intolerable Image,” p. 96.

10. Azoulay, The Civil Contract of Photography, p. 11.