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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262011822 | 314 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 45 illus.| July 2001
Paperback | $31.00 Short | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262511339 | 314 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 45 illus.| February 2003

Death's Showcase

The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy

Overview

This is a book about the public display of death in contemporary culture. It consists of a series of essays on specific cases in which death is displayed in museums and in photography. The essays focus mainly on representations of violence and death in events in recent Israeli history, including the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian Intifada, and on the visual presence of traumatic events in Israeli culture throughout the twentieth century. They show how images of these events both shape and aestheticize the viewer's experience of death.The book offers a new reading of the work of Walter Benjamin, particularly his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Engaging the disciplinary perspectives of philosophy, art history, cultural studies, and photographic theory, the book also draws upon the work of such writers as Jean Baudrillard, Pierre Bourdieu, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Jean-François Lyotard, and Jean-Luc Nancy.

About the Author

Ariella is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and the author of Death’s Showcase: the Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy (MIT Press).

Reviews

“"A book of both profound and theoretical weight and immediate social resonance." James Cunning Holland Afterimage”—
“"Azoulay has an eye for seeking engaging artwork and combining theoretical tools." Doris Bittar Aljadid”—

Endorsements

“How the author could have come to understand the history of the interaction of computation and mathematics so thoroughly and accurately is utterly beyond me. Given the immense number of people involved in the research described, it is thoroughly amazing that someone has surveyed it all and put it together. And done it superbly.”
Robert Boyer, Department of Computer Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin
“The various parts of this work add up to a most valuable, comprehensive statement about the changing relations between art, culture, and power in contemporary democracy.”
Yaron Ezrahi, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“In this original and daring analysis of the politics of art, Azoulay shows how photography, the organization of public space, and the museum as an institution both conceal and reveal basic ideological commitments. Few accounts of the aftermath of the Holocaust or of Israel's recent strife-ridden history uncover as keenly as this work does the close ties to be found between political act and rhetorical representation.”
Berel Lang, Professor of Humanities, Trinity College
“Ariella Azoulay's Death's Showcase is critical discourse at its best: irreverent, politically charged, and yet scrupulously attentive to both specific artworks and the philosophical dimensions of the task of interpretation. We need to learn new ways of seeing, Azoulay insists in incisive analyses of contemporary art, photojournalism, philosophy, and interviews with military surveillance experts, because how we see our surroundings directly determines the politics of being--and the politics of non-being as well.”
Ulrich Baer, Department of German, New York University, author of Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma
“"Zoom forward, track back. Death's Showcase is a fascinating unfolding of these simultaneous operations, whereby photographic, televisual, and museological spaces create an unbridgeable, permanently mourned distance from some auratic object as they draw us closer to things. Ariella Azoulay's is an exciting new voice on the critical scene, politically savvy, artistically astute, and smart on the whole range of issues surrounding the display of death in modern culture." --”
Joan Copjec, author of Imagine There's No Woman
“This is an original and important book on a significant topic. Spectral Evidence is at once learned and critical, informative and imaginative, concrete in its own practice and theoretically sophisticated. It is clearly formulated even when addressing complex issues.”
Berel Lang, Professor of Humanities, Trinity College
“Azoulay's Book is a complex combination of cultural studies, visual culture analysis, and the study of Jewish and Israeli political culture. In each field, she offers a unique reading, unique in its freshness and its ability to turn acce[pted understandings upside down through brilliant insight informed by a vast knowledg in, and profound understanding of, a plethora of theories.”
Hannan Hever, Department of Poetics and Comparative Literature, Tel Aviv University