[Writer and film theorist, b. 1931, Béziers, France, lives in France.]
The person who has been photographed, not the total person, is dead, dead for having been seen.
The familiar photographs that many people carry with them always obviously belong to the order of fetishes in the ordinary sense of the word.
Photography is linked with death in many different ways. The most immediate and explicit is the social practice of keeping photographs in memory of loved beings who are no longer alive. But there is another real death which each of us undergoes every day, as each day we draw nearer to our own death. Even when the person photographed is still living, that moment when she or he was has forever vanished.
I would say that the off-frame effect in photography results from a singular and definitive cutting-off which figures castration and is figured by the “click” of the shutter.
Photography is the mirror, more faithful than any actual mirror, in which we witness at every age, our own aging. The actual mirror accompanies us through time, thoughtfully and treacherously; it changes with us, so that we appear not to change.
The importance of immobility and silence to photographic authority, the nonfilmic nature of this authority, leads me to some remarks on the relationship of photography with death. Immobility and silence are not only two objective aspects of death, they are also its main symbols, they figure it.