The Militant Image

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In the political terrain of the present, what makes a militant image? Historically, forceful artistic works have represented the eruption of revolution, the gathering of liberation struggles, the concatenation of social movements as well as heroic or overlooked moments of resistance and refusal—and even acts of courage and love. Today both the mass media and artistic works abound with images of insurrection, of protest, and of the violent enforcement of biopolitics and the revanchism of austerity. Images of plazas, squares, universities, the streets, and mass protests reverberate in galleries and at biennales. Yet, just as acts of militancy and the targets of militancy are transformed in relation to a historical occasion, the representation of militancy is also open to new situations and potentials. A militant image materially and affectively closes a distance between representation and politics and between the image, communities, and actions. But, as an image of militancy is not guaranteed to be a militant image, what representational tactics, modes of circulation, and affective connections give the image its political intensity? Networks and forms of militancy overlap temporally and spatially and include immanent militancy, militant particularisms, militant de-colonizing, and the militancy of sharing. Militant images »live« within these network of relations and circulate through the past into the present and onward to future social actors.