The Thoughtful Image
by Anne-Gro Erikstad
For the catalogue to Trøndelagsutstillingen 2011

“The thoughtful image” is, according to the french philosopher Jaques Rancière, referring to an individual sometimes described as thoughtful. The fact that she is full of thoughts does not however mean that she is actively thinking, on the contrary, thoughtfulness is most often related to passivity. In the same way the thoughtful image is filled with unthought thought, it is an image which does not possess a definite meaning, it remains open and indefinite.

The relationship between art, nature and perception is an aesthetic problem which the ecological crisis has also made into a political concern. Scientists, artists and politicians need to work together to find new solutions, says the anthropologist and philosopher Bruno Latour in a recent interview with the newspaper Klassekampen. He believes that through stimulating increased sensitivity toward climate change, art can contribute to political change. The belief in art´s political potential is a view that he shares with his fellow frenchman Rancière. According to Rancière, It is not as an ideological tool art becomes political. Rather, by generating dissent, art and politics has a shared purpose. Art can change the way we see and experience the world through a redistribution of the sensible, and thus challenge established norms for what we can think and do.

Both the intention of the artist, the way that he through his work changes the view on both photography and nature, and the viewer´s experience of the work, is part of the thoughtful image. None of them really completes the work. Since the meaning of the work remains undefined it continues to be filled with unthought thought, an inexhaustible possiblity for new experience and comprehension. The emancipated spectator thus also becomes, as part of this figure, one of those who need to “work together”.