The empreinte
in Didi-Huberman and the image
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This chapter draws attention to some of the least-translated and therefore underexplored aspects of Didi-Huberman’s project – the period that extended from the mid-1990s until 2000 and comprised an important exhibition, L’Empreinte. Curated by Didi-Huberman and Didier Semin, the exhibition was held at the Centre Pompidou in 1997 and drew together the dual strains of materiality and temporality that had distinguished his project. Didi-Huberman’s attentiveness to the material, sensible and sensual aspects of the image is foregrounded. By undermining notions pertaining to origin, authenticity and truth, the imprint allows Didi-Huberman to critique the discipline’s implicit commitment to a metaphysics of presence. Like the trace, the imprint is simultaneously not absent or present, origin or copy. This ambiguity disrupts idealist understandings of images.

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