Messianic Nihilism: Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille with the Photography of Documents (1929-1930).
thesisposted on 29.09.2020 by URSULA CORNELIA POWRIE DE LEEUW
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
In this thesis, I analyse a selection of photographs and essays from the journal Documents (1929-1930), alongside the philosophy of Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille. Through this configuration, I propose a theory of messianic nihilism. I focus on Benjamin and Bataille’s analysis of modernity and its apparatus of technological reproduction. I address this through the photographs of Karl Blossfeldt, Eli Lotar, and Jacques-André Boiffard as they interpenetrate with the texts published alongside them. Through the photography of Documents, I argue that ‘messianic nihilism’ emerges as a reconsidered relation to space, and time, that contests teleological notions of progress and the supremacy of language as a homogeneous form of communication.