The Writers' Image

Photography and Literature, Alternatives and Changes

In the past decade the relationship between photography and literature can be seen as two processes parallel to and also reflecting on each other at the same time. We can witness the artistic emancipation of photography as described by the English expression of ‘Visual Turn’. The expression refers to the complex interplay between the image and the word drawing our attention to the inseparable study of the two traditions.

The language of the visuals with its expressive force is influencing the comprehension of literature in the post reading era to an extent that has never before been experienced. The portraits of the writers as emblematic pieces of the writers’ ouvre seem to be a kind of introduction to literature. At the same time the writers’ photos as documents of visual anthropology give away a lot about literary cults, self images and changing societal roles.
How do photographers see the ‘heroes’ of literature? To what extent does the use of technology define their view? In what way, if at all, do writers modify the visual documents taken of them? What does the success and publicity of the message inspired by both sides and involved in the same document depend on? Whose is the photo? Does it  belong to the writer sitting in front of or the photographer behind the camera?
The ideas above were raised by Péter György as an introduction to the round table discussion organised by the Institute for Theory of Art and Media Studies of Eötvös University and the PetőfiLiteraryMuseum. Those taking part in the discussion included Dávid Horváth, László Lugo Lugosi and Anna Cséve and Csilla E. Csorba on behalf of  the museum. The summary of the themes discussed on 27th May 2008 below  is supplemented by the additional thoughts of Barna Burger, who had accepted the  invitation of the museum  but could not take part in the discussion.  

The Writers' Image - text of the conversation