Based on an account of the Brighton Photo-Biennial Memory of Fire: The War of Images and Images of War, curated by Julian Stallabrass in late 2008, this essay considers the photographic coverage of the recent imperialist interventions in the Middle East. Taking its cue from Stallabrass's event, it reflects on the decline of documentary and photojournalism since the Vietnam War and the current attenuated politics of the media. It argues that the problem of the sublime extends beyond the current genre of 'aftermath'-photography and asks what might constitute a more cognitively adequate politics of the image.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, Historical Materialism has brought together some of the most significant Marxist scholars working in this area to debate the issues. This text introduces some of the questions raised by the Civil War and Southern slavery for Marxists and introduces the essays that follow.
New books by Caroline Arscott and Mike Sanders return to the vexed problem of Marxism and aesthetics. For some time, there has been an intense suspicion of aesthetic thought in Marxist circles, where it is perceived as an ideology perpetrating a false resolution of contradictions. Arscott and Sanders understand aesthetics to be at the heart of the communist imagination: Arscott offers a detailed investigation of how the body is inhabited in the art of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones; Sanders considers the figure of the poet in Chartism as a spur to radicalism. Engaging with these books, this review calls for a Marxist reconsideration of aesthetic thought and artistic practice.