Depth of Field, volume 1, no. 1 (October 2011)Paulus Bijl: Embodying Colonial Photography: Remembering Violence in Tabee Toean

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This article is about bodily interactions with photographs. Taking an interview with a veteran from the Dutch colonial army filmed for the documentary Tabee Toean (1995) as its case study, it focuses on the ways in which this man frames these images of colonial warfare through three types of bodily actions: gesturing, staging, and reenacting. Unlike existing literature on the relation between the human body and photography, this article does not focus on the body as a sensual apparatus for individual perception, but rather as a mediator between the image and the social community. Concentrating on what is called the “production of secrecy”, it demonstrates how the bodily framing of these photographs can be interpreted in light of the difficulties the Dutch society has in addressing photographs and other documents of colonial atrocities.