ICI Research Group Forming for Barthes’ Tear

spider in the web


All the world’s photographs formed a Labyrinth. I knew that at the center of this Labyrinth I would find nothing but this sole picture, fulfilling Nietzsche’s prophecy: “A labyrinthine man never seeks the truth, but only his Ariadne.”

– Roland Barthes


In Camera Lucida, Barthes “finds” his mother in a single photograph. He muses, it is “the only photograph which assuredly existed for me.” In this case, “the one” also becomes the only picture from which Barthes will “’derive’ all Photography” in what would become his one and only book on photography.

“The one” connotes other singularities: the masterpiece, the exception, the anomaly, the worst and the best. The one is the individual within the masses, the single mutant and the freak accident that produced it, and the single events of anything that lives: a birth and then, a death. Does “the one” rise to the top, or sink to the bottom without our discovery or intervention? Or does it require invention, an act of selection, a resuscitation in which we create a sole survivor in a sea ‘almost-ones’ that have lost (have become lost in) their bid for uniqueness?

We are now forming a research group in conjunction with the ICI’s upcoming publication project centered on Barthes’ seminal book. We are looking for writers, artists, scholars, practitioners and curious spectators to join our team; anyone who has an interest in Barthes, or photography, or books about/as art. We intend to begin our meetings in the first month of 2012 and to convene on a monthly basis. Individuals who attend the first couple of sessions will determine the course and nature of the group. Our first act will be to interrogate the very term that has been selected to seed our inquiry. A pilot ICI project centered on ‘remote channels’ will enable distant participants. We encourage inquiries from individuals with shared interests but different time zones.

Please send a statement of interest to the ICI by December 15, 2011. Indicate your interest(s) and any limitations on your schedule: info@culturalinquiry.org.

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