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A Philosophy of Photography for the Freedom Of The Migrant

Born in 1920  to a Jewish family in Prag, Vilem Flusser, was forced to leave his “Heimat” to become a migrant and escape from the Nazis. Being forced to leave under such circumstances can hardly be perceived as freedom, yet in his essay collection “The Freedom Of The Migrant”, Flusser suggests that the migrant is free. What does this mean? The freedom of the migrant, according to Flusser, is not just a negative freedom from destruction or repression, it is a positive freedom to choose one’s affiliations and relationships with others independently of borders, class and nations. He turns the stigma of the migrant experience around, describing it as the quintessential contemporary experience in a world where our homes are perforated with “visible and invisible cables“. In the light of the current revival of nationalisms in Europe, Flusser’s ideas have renewed pertinence.

Photographs, videos, “technical images” as Flusser called them, greatly influence how we perceive the condition of the migrant today. The challenge for us is to understand and criticize the discourses inscribed in the images in order to dismantle their power. How can we conceive of this? If Flusser understands photographs as images of concepts, could the interplay of  abstract concepts, not also be turned into an argumentative structure to formulate a critique of the apparatus which produced them? We wish to discuss and dissect some of Flusser’s ideas in a playful and methodical manner and work out our own responses to his challenges. We will also visit the exhbition “Vilém Flusser and the Arts” for inspiration and to see some examples of what Flusser proposed as philosophizing with technical images. And we will develop sketches and small projects which criticize the technical image in the broadest sense.

Franziska Wildt, freie Künstlerin

Baruch Gottlieb, freier Künstler, zusammen mit Prof. S. Zielinski und Prof. P. Weibel Co-Kurator der laufenden Ausstellung „Bodenlos – Vilém Flusser und die Künste“ in der Akademie der Künste