Sindrome cinese

Benjamin e la soglia auratica dell'immagine

Andrea Pinotti

pp. 161-180

In the first half of the Thirties Walter Benjamin offers two radically different interpretations of the legend of the Chinese painter who disappears in his own painting after having trespassed the threshold dividing the representative space of the image from the actual space of reality: in Berlin Childhood around 1900 the anecdote is presented as a positive example of tactile identification between subject and object; in the versions of the essay The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility the vanishing painter becomes the paradigm of the optical contemplation of cultual auratic images. In my paper I will try to clarify such interpretative switch from nearness to farness, exploring three major issues in Benjamin’s thought: the question of the threshold between reality and representation in painting, theatre and cinema; the criticism of empathic identification (shared by Benjamin with Brecht); the admiration for Chinese culture, expressed by Benjamin in many passages of his work, and metabolized in a peculiar conception of “Chinese dialectics”.

Publication details

DOI: 10.4000/estetica.1615

Full citation:

Pinotti, A. (2013). Sindrome cinese: Benjamin e la soglia auratica dell'immagine. Rivista di estetica 52, pp. 161-180.

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