The first and second Gulf Wars are “preventive” military interventions typical of the state of exception, which find their legitimacy in the shared perception of an imminent threat and risk. Ten years apart, Gerhard Richter and Werner Herzog have grappled with these events. The former with the book War Cut (2003), in which he assembles newspaper excerpts about the war and details from one of his abstract paintings; the latter with the film Lessons of Darkness (Lektionen in Finsternis 1992), in which he explores the landscape of Kuwait devastated by burning oil wells, but accompanies the images with an apocalyptic text that makes no explicit reference to the conflict. The article discusses and refutes the accusations of “anesthetization of war” made by some critics to these works and shows how, on the contrary, they testify to specific aspects of these conflicts. In particular, by focusing on the emergence of figurativity or its erosion, they reflect on how the media discourse participated in the production of risk and on the traumatic impact of the conflict on civilians.

Wunderbare Kombinationen. Figurabilité des guerres du Golfe chez Gerhard Richter et Werner Herzog = Wunderbare Kombinationen. Figurability and the Gulf Wars according to Gerhard Richter and Werner Herzog

Angela MENGONI
2022

Abstract

The first and second Gulf Wars are “preventive” military interventions typical of the state of exception, which find their legitimacy in the shared perception of an imminent threat and risk. Ten years apart, Gerhard Richter and Werner Herzog have grappled with these events. The former with the book War Cut (2003), in which he assembles newspaper excerpts about the war and details from one of his abstract paintings; the latter with the film Lessons of Darkness (Lektionen in Finsternis 1992), in which he explores the landscape of Kuwait devastated by burning oil wells, but accompanies the images with an apocalyptic text that makes no explicit reference to the conflict. The article discusses and refutes the accusations of “anesthetization of war” made by some critics to these works and shows how, on the contrary, they testify to specific aspects of these conflicts. In particular, by focusing on the emergence of figurativity or its erosion, they reflect on how the media discourse participated in the production of risk and on the traumatic impact of the conflict on civilians.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11578/317967
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