“Un congegno che capta ogni cosa”. Susan Sontag e i limiti dell’immaginario fotografico

Daniele Garritano


“A device that captures it all”. Susan Sontag and the limits of photographic imaginary. Sontag’s collection of essays On Photography (1977) identifies the photographic gaze as a way of experiencing and defining reality through a controversial mix of fragmentation and desire of totalization, which is typical of capitalistic societies. Different visual languages of the global modernity show that our perception of reality is constructed by giving us an immense amount of visual experience. If post-Fordist culture has reinforced an addictive attitude towards the production-consumption of images, we can nonetheless recognize and empower our capability to assign them unforeseen meanings, for instance through processes of cognitive estrangement. The final part of this article compares Sontag’s perspective on the photographic construction of reality to Mark Fisher’s notion of “capitalist realism”. By doing this, I explore the possibility of a critical kind of photographic conscience, based on the weird effects of experiencing reality through the filter of a camera, which is particularly evident in Diane Arbus’ body of works.


Photography; Modernity; Constructivism; Capitalist realism; Cognitive estrangement

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7413/22818138184


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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis