Horror Vacui

In the late 1920s, the biochemist, author and philosopher Paul Nougé (1895-1967) took nineteen photographs, which were first published in Paris in 1968 under the title 'Subversion d'Images’. The common feature of this series is that the images are full of signs, associations and stories, while at the same time subverting any narrative: something can be seen that at second glance turns out to be quite different.

Romeo Grünfelder’s 2008 film Naissance d'un Objet uses elements from Nougé’s photograh Les Spectateurs. A group of people is sitting in the corner of the room, playing dice. When one of the players turns her head, she seems to notice something in the centre of the room. The others follow her eye, the centre of the image space becomes the centre of attention. The question what they see, however, remains unanswered. The view is always obscured by one of the protagonists, and once they move there’s again nothing to be seen. When the image undermines pure depiction, beholders still imagine to 'see' something. If they see 'nothing', they become rather suspicious of sabotage.

The anthology Horror Vacui is an attempt at describing this conflict. The central question is whether there is something worth speaking about in this conflict created by the film?

With texts by Christian Wüthrich, Robert Pfaller, Martin Winter, Ursula Panhans-Bühler, Romeo Grünfelder, David Hume, Thomas Mann, Louis Kaplan, Peter Geimer, Aristoteles, Gabi Schaffner, Yvonne Wübben and Jeffrey Sconce. The photograph Les Spectateurs is enclosed in every book as an authorised copy on photographic paper.

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Book Review by Volker Weidermann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung