A Hitherto Unrecognized Apocalyptic Photographer: The Universe


A Hitherto Unrecognized Apocalyptic Photographer: The Universe

Jalal Toufic
In partnership with ALBA-University of Balamand

Thursday 5 May, 19:00 to 20:30

In English
Free admission

Was photography invented not so much to assuage some urge to arrest the moment, but partly owing to an intuition that it already existed in the universe, in the form of the immobilization and flattening at the event horizon? By superimposing the reference frame of the outside observer and that of the astronaut approaching the black hole, one has at the event horizon a flattening and a suspension of motion – a photograph – of the still moving three-dimensional person who crossed into the black hole. The universe automatically takes the astronaut’s photograph as he crosses its border, the event horizon, in a sort of paradigmatic farewell. A monadic entity’s camera-less photographic portrait in the vicinity of the event horizon is also that of the photographer, the universe: in the vicinity of the event horizon, we have, from an external reference frame, a photograph of the astronaut, or, to be more accurate, the astronaut turned, through flattening and freezing, into a photograph; but also, through the infinite unfolding of what he, as a monad, enfolds, the baroque photograph of the universe. While in the last moments before one’s death, one’s whole life reportedly flashes before one, at the universe’s end, at the event horizon, all the universe’s events unfold. From this perspective, any monadic entity that ostensibly crosses the event horizon, but certainly a human being, is an apocalyptic event.

A Hitherto Unrecognized Apocalyptic Photographer: The Universe is the first in a series of talks organized by Jalal Toufic, Director of ALBA’s School of Visual Arts, in partnership with ALBA-University of Balamand.

Jalal Toufic is a thinker and a mortal to death. He was born in 1962 in Beirut or Baghdad and died before dying in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois. He was a participant in the Sharjah Biennials 6, 10, and 11, and dOCUMENTA (13), among others. In 2013–2014, he and Anton Vidokle led Ashkal Alwan’s third edition of Home Workspace Program. He has been the director of the School of Visual Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) since September 2015.