An interview with Marie-Jose Mondzain: What is an image?
Marie-José Mondzain is one of the major philosophers writing about image, iconography, and representation today. In this interview, she discusses a few of the central ideas in her approach to and thinking about the nature of image and image-making as they bear upon the emergence of subjectivity and visibility in general. According to Mondzain, images are not visual objects we may or may not see; rather they are the site where the visible and its invisibility crisscross each other in opening the field of presence. Images, as Mondzain says in the interview, are cracks or leaks in being. They are where lights first come in and where man and beings are born to each other in their being-in-the world, that is, in their truth. To the point at every turn, her answers to questions in this interview provide a glimpse into her forceful thinking and insights.
KEYWORDS Icon; image; gaze; representation; spectatorship; subject
Marie-José Mondzain is a French philosopher specializing in arts, history, visual culture, and Byzantium civilization. She graduated from École Normale Supérieure de Sèvres and received her Doctorate from Université Panthéon-Sorbonne. She is a research director at Écoles des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) and Centre nationale de la rescherche scientifique (CNRS, the French National Centre for Scientific Research). Her book, Image, icône, économie: les sources byzantines de l’imaginaire contemporain (1996) was translated into English and published by Stanford University in 2004. Her most recent book is Confiscation: des mots, des images et du temps (2017).
Briankle G. Chang teaches in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Deconstructing Communication: Representation, Subject and Economies of Exchange (Uni of Minn Press, 1996) and Co-editor of Philosophy of Communication (MIT Press, 2012.) His recent publications include “Benjamin’s Travel,” in a Special Issue on Walter Benjamin in Positions he edited in 2018 and “Seeing Goddess in Typhoons” that appeared in differences in 2018.