The Absence of Atrocity: On Bart Michiels’ "The Course of History" Photographs

Fessel, Sonja (2013). The Absence of Atrocity: On Bart Michiels’ "The Course of History" Photographs. In: Michiels, Bart (ed.) The Course of History (o.P.). Bologna: Damiani

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This article examines the absence of atrocity in the photographic series The Course of History by the Belgian-born, New York-based photographer Bart Michiels (1964–). It shows, in beautiful, large-format prints, seemingly innocent landscapes and confined views of nature. Only when viewers read the titles of the photographs do they become aware of the violent history of the sites. These turn out to be the fields of fierce European battles such as Verdun, Waterloo and Stalingrad. The present article reviews recent trends towards using place as a motif in contemporary art photography and focuses on the ‘empty’ landscape as a pictorial strategy that opens up a narrative space, one that needs to be completed by the viewer. The absence evoked by the image is treated as antithetical to the conventional ethos of photography, which canonically stands as the evidence of an occurrence.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Art History

UniBE Contributor:

Fessel, Sonja


700 Arts
700 Arts > 770 Photography & computer art








Sonja Fessel

Date Deposited:

27 Feb 2014 16:29

Last Modified:

11 Apr 2014 08:03


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