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Forgetting Lot's WifeOn Destructive Spectatorship$
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Martin Harries

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227334

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823227334.001.0001

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Anselm Kiefer's Lot's Wife: Perspective and the Place of the Spectator

Anselm Kiefer's Lot's Wife: Perspective and the Place of the Spectator

(p.76) 3 Anselm Kiefer's Lot's Wife: Perspective and the Place of the Spectator
Forgetting Lot's Wife

Martin Harries

Fordham University Press

Altdorfer's painting takes the place of memory. Just as the logic of memory is disturbed here, so the logic of Sebald's poem moves, not ungrammatically but also not exactly logically, from “Nürnberg in flames” to the painting by Altdorfer. As Huyssen's and numerous other accounts suggest, it is hard to resist Kiefer's paintings' intense interpellation of the spectator. That interpellation requires attention to the perspectival tradition in which he works and to the specificities of painting's placement of the spectator. Lot's wife is the original witness of a great massacre, but only a wholly secular and resistant reading of the Bible can rescue her as a figure analogous to the “witness” to the Holocaust. In both Genesis and Exodus, the theological register defines the power of the commandment: the Bilderverbot is divine and absolute.

Keywords:   Sebald, interpellation, Altdorfer, Anselm Kiefer, holocaust, Bilderverbot

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