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Abstract

In her article "Evoking a Memory of the Future in Foer's Everything is Illuminated" Doro Wiese discusses Jonathan Safran Foer's novel. In the text a photograph plays a decisive role: the image of two young people drives the Jewish American Jonathan to visit the Ukraine. The photograph is presumably of Jonathan's grandfather Safran and a woman named Augustine who saved Safran's life during a nazi raid of his village: the photograph becomes an ekphrasis, a description of a visual work of art in another medium which transforms the generic characteristics of written and photographic representations. According to Anselm Haverkamp, photographs are visual citations from history and about history: they show not only people and/or objects at a specific moment in time, but also point towards the irretrievability of that moment. Yet, when photography is transposed into another medium that performs the effects of a confrontation with the given-to-deathness of the people displayed, photography-in-ekphrasis might perform not only mourning over the irretrievability of the life that is lost, but the ethical necessity to resist the devaluation of life in the present.