I like letters because they allow us to say things at another pace. I feel that they foster greater concentration and nuances than those live and rushed chats where (for me at least) the restricted time and the instantaneity favours common places, those of us who are shy to hide, the most epidermal transit. In this correspondence upon which we are embarking, we are being invited to discuss ‘body and visual representation’, a link that is present not only in our work, but that might also be a corollary for our ‘bodiless’ relationship, normally mediated by screens.
that screen accustoms us to a world of ‘fleshless’
Although it may appear to be the case, when you really think about it, it is not so strange that, knowing each other as we have done from almost two decades, we have only seldom coincided ‘in the flesh’. Recently, in this part of the world, people rarely look each at other directly in the face: there is almost always a screen between us. And that screen accustoms us to a world of images, as Debray might put it, leaving behind that memory of when, with others, we also had to deal with the feel, smell and materiality of the world. In my case, I don’t miss it, due to the progressive decline and vulnerability of my body and my sickly eyes. Increasingly, I like to leave it in peace at home whilst I inhabit the ‘net. The screen is, there, a bionic eye that artificializes and gives contrast to a world that is, to me, gloomy and foggy.
Inhabit? It’s a word you used in one of our first messages (back at the start of the century and the millennium) to refer to how we sensed our relationship might be described from then on. It was 2001 and you said to me something like lately, everyone’s inhabiting a dot com. This ‘inhabiting’ you alluded to was both a description and a prognosis for us, who remain on the ‘net with that sense of estrangement of those who (as artists or as thinkers, if indeed we can distinguish between such descriptions in our case) seek in images that quality which, for Barthes made them subversive, not when they ‘frighten’, ‘upset’ or ‘stigmatise’, but when they make us thoughtful.
As feminists, the postponement of the body and its mediation via screens has been an issue that we have been dealing with since the ‘90s, giving rise to more than a few discourses on the potential, risks and possibilities of emancipation in the connected world. It is important because, traditionally, women have been preceded by a body image about which to opine and take sides pursuant to much more oppressive and often reductive canons and models. The traditional forms of power and their narratives have also kept us subordinated by controlling our bodies or restricting us to the body and to caring for bodies, such that, a priori, accepting its non-face-to-face or experiential basis wouldn’t be a problem for me.
What’s more, we now spend a lot of our time in a projected world of technological representation and mediations, such that to talk of bodies and visual representation is, in a way, to talk of our everyday life. The ‘framework of the imagination’ is no longer limited to artistic practice, nor even to clearly defined places or times. Today, the world and others almost always come to us interfaced by technology.
to what extent do the visual depictions we produce in this time allow us to repeat or imagine old and new identities stemming from and dealing with bodies?
And the questions always come with us. Because, to what extent do the visual depictions we produce in this time allow us to repeat or imagine old and new identities stemming from and dealing with bodies? What is political art capable of in those areas in which artists no longer have the prerogative of the image? In a world with a visual surfeit, there seems to have been an explosion in representations of the body, turning the subject into an exhibited product: nevertheless, where is the negativity and the narrative, the interior world, in a medium that prizes the cumulative and aestheticized, a ‘deinternalising’ of shallow and surface, which appears to obstruct the depth of the well in which social meanings take root and are transformed?
I get the feeling that the marvellous and terrifying artefact that is the Internet gives rise to a wide range of readings when dealing with representation and the body. In the first place, it has fostered the making public and sharing of the private world, even or especially when the private world has hid subjection and fear. It has also favoured the creating and sharing of links between peers, engaging with and knowing each other in different ways… but its edges are not smooth. Some are sharp, rough and liquid, they cut, they make us go unnoticed and they repeat us, whilst others help us build and imagine other ways of showing ourselves and being more emancipatory. For someone who, like me, speaks from a political standpoint, the issue would be to identify where and how these forms can help us to live more freely or, to a different degree, become symbolic oppressors.
images of ourselves both sustain and hurt us , just as our hands hurt and protect us when we put them out to break our fall.
Let me begin with myself. With the break that writing can afford me, I stop to observe my body, peeling myself away for a second or two from the machine and noticing constructed patinas, hair, face, bodily adornments, clothes, perforations, makeup, lower down wounds, a spirit that is material, fingers that press, almost caress, the keys. A body that speaks or writes is always robed in a culture and a time. Cosmetics and clothing also form part of the body and help us to construct what, in theory, we have chosen to be, to the point where, as Barthes suggested in quoting Sartre, what we choose represents ‘what the others have chosen’ in our place. And it is here that an issue key to individual and collective representation comes into play: that images of ourselves both sustain and hurt us, just as our hands hurt and protect us when we put them out to break our fall.
Nevertheless, recently, it seems to me that the issue has been affected by a kind of anthropological discontinuity with regard to our own bodies and their images. I’m referring to how, far from protecting the subject’s privacy, what we nowadays seek in images is to ‘be seen’, ‘be seen to be seen’, how representation has given way to presence and exhibition on the ‘net or even, I would say, hyper-representation. The Internet is helping reinforce an imaginary of the subject repeatedly self-presented, exhibited and commercialised. That utopic deconstruction of stereotypes we called for back in the ‘90s, when the ‘net was just some kind of empty wasteland, and the works on pointed to the liberating power of the interface for creating the widest diversity of representations, less limited to what the body shows, is now but a distant memory. You and I both know that the world decided to take a completely different route.
Every image has a conflict in what it shows or, more frequently, in what it hides
However, I’m also struck by an issue that has interested both of us since we chose art and thought as our fields of work: I’m referring to what links representation with precariousness, not only in the proliferation of unmanageable and outmoded visual manifestations and ‘poor images’as Steyerl would put it, but also in the vital materialisation of forms of shelf life, speed and excess, which at some point turned ‘life into work’ and ‘the world into a screen’, i.e. reality into ‘a framed world’. To inhabit it is nowadays incentivised under the twin logics of quantification and simplification that surround online life. Logics marked by a visually surplus and falsely positive culture, one that encourages us to dispense with conflict and with empty times/spaces capable of restoring depth and narrative to representations.
Every image has a conflict in what it shows or, more frequently, in what it hides: even a stock photo like the one above, featuring a beautiful smiling woman posing. A photo much like many others that are chosen by Google’s search algorithms if you enter the word ‘woman’ hereabouts, or those included by default in those photo frames you can buy in shops. I know people who buy these frames and keep the photos in them, seeing in them, symbolically, some family member with a certain formal resemblance with the woman in the frame, however small (skin tone or hair colour). For a long time, I have been one of them on my mother’s bedside table, as have my cousins, and we have also stood on the drinks cabinet of my great aunt, who, given the absence of any real printed photos, said she saw us in those nameless images, which she used as a versatile mould so as to be able to mentally place her relations.
I’m not at all surprised by this symbolic recourse that accompanies the apparent neutrality of images we regard as stereotypical, and which achieve a mild and gentle reaction, a peaceful reception of an identity compared with the singularity they represent. This posed photo, devoid apparently of either conflict or narrative, can be appropriated by anyone who lacks an image. It serves and replaces, it is a stereotype, it is the response to something that performatively repeats and sets a standard. It is an image of a culturally beautiful face and body that, in theory anyway, ‘does not disturb’. I say ‘in theory’ because, with so much seeking to represent, it does in fact disturb those who, in a culture so extremely aestheticized as our own, feel identified by their rejection of such images, precisely because they do not see themselves as so beautiful, so stable, so happy, so smooth and slim, so perfect. At least not until we have ceased depicting imperfect reality to project idealised images in the images we save and share.
There is no doubt that this is something new, such a richly and profusely visual universe as that of today, in which beings appear to define themselves as ‘seen beings’. Never before had we humans been surrounded by so many images of both ourselves and others. On our technological devices and on social media networks, the bodies and faces habitually depicted seek, in the addictive edited self-portrait, to be beautiful images of beautiful lives: images of bodes that please and relax, that do not disturb, and which collect ‘likes’. I wonder whether, as Byung-Chul Han warns us, In other words, because they are easily made docile, neutralise their poetry and cease depicting reality to project it. ‘We flee towards images to be better, more beautiful’, argues Han.
I don’t know how you see it, but I believe that the image of the body is a form of control and of displaying oneself, a form of self-control and neutralisation. The commercial drift favours it bio-politically and capitalises on the inertia of this context, this trend, this technology. The non-conformity of the bodies and their representations is an unfailing driving force. The (edited) exhibition prevails over its representation.
It’s true that what I’m sharing with you is both a subjective attempt at description and a positioned critique. It’s enough to warn you that these images seeking to represent us or with which we seek to represent ourselves do not only affect us on an individual level. Insofar as they symbolically reiterate forms that turn us into equals, they allow us to define and create an identitary community, to bolster and solidify value systems, nowadays always quantified and objectified to facilitate their ranking and ordering. In my book Ojos y Capital (Eyes and Capital), I reflect on how, in an online world that appears ever more complex and diverse, the forces mobilising representation as exhibition help strengthen more conservative models when supported by excess and speed as precarious categories. Amongst other things, because they commit the subject to his or her self-presentation and, making the pressure to project oneself invisible, normalise it as something falsely chosen.
Although I do believe that these pressures speak of trends, they don’t, I think, rule out either resistance or diversity. Because, nowadays, the online space also makes circular what is not canonical and what is regarded as culturally abject, even though this is in many cases beginning to be censored (like the images featured below). This would be the case of the many selfies of bodies or bits of bodies that have been rejected by the aesthetic and moral filters that nowadays set the standard for visibility on the ‘net.
The statement implicit in the displaying of the censored body is a clearly political one, but that does not mean that it is not also being commercialised
Irrespective of how they are frequently positioned as artistic offerings, they do feature, particularly, political and critical viewpoints that are also tired of a representational hegemony that had ignored any form of reality regarded as unaesthetic, vulnerable, imperfect, uncomfortable or hidden. A territory in which feminists and queers have played a clear leading role, denouncing the control over the depiction and meaning of their bodies, particularly when presented without the habitual veneers of intervention or filter. Examples include nudes with body hair, unposed, with their fluids and scars or with their disturbing symbolic wounds given material form in flesh and image.
The fact that their revealing of their breasts and nipples, their menstrual blood or simply how they breastfeed is being seen as a triumph lays bare the moral control and prejudice providing the foundations for representation in the online spaces we inhabit as if they were public ones. The way they are censored reminds us that
The statement implicit in the displaying of the censored body is a clearly political one, but that does not mean that it is not also being commercialised. Where the image is everything but where standardisation prevails, being different gives added value, and, on the Internet, work being censored can help to ‘get more hits’. On my online wanderings, I found a headline stating: ‘Arvida Byström: the artist who challenges censorship on Instagram and to which all brands want to sign’. The issue seems contradictory but that doesn’t mean that it is not interesting, because it’s complex, and if we talk about freedom, it is just as important to combat the censorship of ‘can’t’ as it is to confront new pressures to instrumentalise the body as entertainment or business (‘you have to display yourself’).
We know that feminism and queer activism have spearheaded all kinds of campaigns in support of freedom and to denounce prohibition, censorship or the belittling of the depiction of bodies when it is the subjects themselves who wish to represent them and when said gesture also involves a complaint or critique concerning the hegemonic forms of subordination and control that harm us. These pressures mean that networks such as Facebook removed some restrictions on women’s breasts (on some breasts), when they breastfed or when they had mastectomy scars, or when these images were works of art that depicted nude figures or just a woman’s vulva.
It spurs and motivates. I’m referring to the need to identify the powers that cast light or shadow on bodies/images and their meanings. I think of this and wish to establish a relationship between this online scenario and the precedent of recent decades, when a sizeable number of feminist artists turned their own bodies into the object and instrument of their representations.
I know you know a great deal about the matter and have thought long and hard about the work of artists such as Mendieta. And I think I see analogies and discontinuities. The clearest is how, now, the circulation of images is no longer restricted to the world of art: instead, they are disseminated across everyday online spaces. It is true that these distribution channels permit the infiltration of otherness into the space we ‘inhabit’ and, perhaps, a greater degree of democratisation of its cause, but I am concerned by the lack of narrative and conflict arising from current forms of political and aesthetic reception, that is, of the policies of looking.
Because what is not so clear to me is to what point there is symbolic efficacy in the predominant form of mobilisation on social media networks, with a preference for making an impression rather than providing insight, for the novelty of the dress over the policy of the flesh, the commercial value that minimises or hides the critical value. In other words, how far the logic of speed, excess and a short shelf life neutralises the digital medium as something, as Han puts it, ‘deinternalising’. The digital industries bring this appropriation into the realm of everyday life, but they do not problematise it, because that would create tension and negativity, the need for a narrative, for a pause, for a trance, when what predominates on the ‘net is additive and ‘accumulative’ in tone. Some do so, though: those activists or those with a critical and non-conformist spirit who do not restrict themselves to capitalising upon models, but who make them reflective, in pursuit of the world’s contagion and transformation, feeling in some way along the lines of what was suggested by Barthes when stating with regard to own images: ‘(i)t is my political right to be a subject that is what I have to defend’.
Looking forward to reading what you have to say and sharing impressions…
 ‘Our eye increasingly ignores the flesh of the world’, in Régis Debray, Vie et mort de l’image. Une histoire du regard en Occident, Paidós, Barcelona, 1995, p. 97.
 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida. Notes on Photography. Hill and Wang, 1981.
 Remedios Zafra, ‘Redes y (ciber)feminismos’, Digitos, Valencia, 2018.
 Byung-Chul Han, In the Swarm: Digital Prospects (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2017).
 Roland Barthes, The Fashion System, University of California Press (July 25, 1990)
 Remedios Zafra, Ojos y capital, Consonni, Bilbao, 2015. 2018.
 Hito Steyerl, In Defense of the Poor Image. e-flux 10, New York: e-flux, Nov 2009.
 Remedios Zafra, ‘Fotos con marco’, Despacio, Caballo de Troya, Barcelona, 2012.
 Juan Martín Prada, El ver y las imágenes en el tiempo de Internet. Akal, Madrid, 2018, p. 6.
 ‘Today, images are not only copies, but also models. We flee towards images to be better, more beautiful, more alive’, in Byung-Chul Han, op. cit., p. 49. Author’s note: author’s own translation.
 Remedios Zafra, Ojos y capital, Consonni, Bilbao, 2015. 2018.
 Quoted by Juan Martín Prada (2018), op. cit., p. 163. (English original: http://www.petracollins.com/censorship-and-the-female-body/)
 Roland Barthes (2010), op. cit., p. 35.
As you noted in your first letter, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other “in the flesh” (by the way, what a Baroque expression, right? Who really thinks they’ll actually encounter someone’s flesh when we meet them?). Nevertheless, I have the odd feeling of constant closeness. Whether due to our shared love of screens, with the way we “follow” each other digitally, or—as you mentioned—due to being joined by a generational link for the last twenty years, over which we have shared, and continue to share, issues and interests both personal and professional, I have always felt a great sense of closeness towards you.
In any case, the happenstance of us carrying on a public correspondence with each other—what a deliciously extravagant format in this era of Skype!—seems to me to provide a particularly auspicious opportunity. Not only due to the current scarcity value of letters, but also because of the tempo they permit, and because of the warmth of the intimacy they convey. What’s more, the fact that they are made visible and public, on many different screens, rounds off a combination of factors that is a perfect reflection of our lives, lives we are still living in a dot com world, just as we predicted years ago.
This is us on-screen. This is me, touching my own digital image with my finger, merging with the image on the screen. A digital palimpsest, that is what we are planning to compose with this written (on-screen) conversation.
Ever since the 1990s, when we were little more than youthful newbies, we have shared a love of technology and the cyberfeminist promise of acquiring new bodies, far removed from those imposed on us by the capitalist patriarchy, far removed from the “production vs. reproduction” equation that condemned us to the sexual division of labour. Or, worse still, that condemned us to a productive reproduction, which is how things seem to have ended up in the last decade.
Enthused by the teachings of the great Donna Haraway, we would rather have been cyborgs than goddesses, and I think that this remains my preference. In my case, at least, turning into a new techno-materialist and anti-naturalist form of feminism, now under the name of xenofeminism.
So many bodies hidden, forgotten, denied, betrayed…
The 1990s were the years of corruption and of the Barcelona Olympic Games, of GAL and of Señor X, of raised political awareness and of assuming our history, of the arrival of Aznar and his implacable class warfare. For our generation, it was also the awakening of feminism, but also of the calling into question of the legacy of the so-called “second wave” of feminism, of its ideas, its imaginaries and its often pronounced technophobia. They were also the years of the spreading of HIV in Spain and, also within our context, of the end of the false fiesta—although we should really differentiate the “state-sponsored fiesta” from those more savage and conflictive ones such as those of the Basque Country or Vigo—that involved la movida and its pact of forgetting: so much hidden shame, so many cowering miseries, so many guilty parties pardoned by an Amnesty Law that remains in force (and remains concealed). In short: so many bodies hidden, forgotten, denied, betrayed…
Those bodies and the bodies riddled with AIDS, those phantasmagorical bodies from our past and those diagnosed, obscene bodies (which should have remained offstage, ob scenae), those bodies of excess and putrefaction, as well as those bodies of othernesses (which had already begun to emerge at the end of the 1960s at the hands of feminist, homosexual and post-colonial artists and critics of those who wished to remind us that the class struggle still existed) played a leading role in our political and aesthetic education and constituted—and still constitute—our privileged work environment. That is, the privileged environment for our struggle, since, as you yourself put it, our writing—and, in my case, a praxis with images—is a positioned and politicised writing.
Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to violence! Welcome to the hegemonic visual system, impervious to its exclusions!
Those ob-scene bodies, those unliked by the sacrosanct History of Art that has been produced by the white Eurocentric bourgeoisie or its narrow heteronormative thought, which spoke of menstrual blood and of our excretions, of penetrable holes and bodies with exposed organs, which spoke of capital and its hardships, of what had been condemned to the category of “ugly” because it did not soothe its mind, coached in idealised taste. Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to violence! Welcome to the hegemonic visual system, impervious to its exclusions! Yes, those are the images—the mother with the censored breasts on Facebook, the flaccid Photoshopped flesh, the matrix of our wounds, which do not know epistemic justice.
You spoke in your missive about Ana Mendieta. And it’s true, with this first book and with the tools that built it, and with open eyes, eyes that I was no longer able to close, I (we) began to analyse images of bodies from a different perspective. We were never the same. And we never will be.
And we discovered Artemisia Gentileschi and her rape, Camille Claudel and her confinement, Claude Cahun and her exile within surrealism, Remedios Varo and the way she was put down… and we discovered the ignored women and forgotten people of other cosmologies and other cultural territories, black artists and writers, Angela Davis and bell hooks, Kate Millet, Griselda Pollock and feminist film theory and its de-aesthetics and negativity, of which you wrote in your first letter. I won’t play nature to your culture. No. I’m not going to be your fetish, the doll of your dreams.
We discovered that we have a genealogy, another genealogy, a different genealogy. And that’s why we can go on and how our work can be powerful and emancipating, because we are what we are thanks to them. I became another person after reading film through the analyses of Teresa de Lauretis, Laura Mulvey, Ann Kaplan, Claire Johnston, Giulia Colaizzi, Mar Villaespesa…
Your body is a battleground, as artist Barbara Kruger reminded us in 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Bodies, power and capital: that equation we’ve never stopped working on. That equation that we inhabit, that inhabits us.
How can we be not be uneasy and on the alert in view of our opaque hyper-visibility?
In your letter, you speak of subordination and control, of designing our bodies through stereotypes, the media, liquid screens and the Internet, Facebook and Google. Vicarious bodies and subjectivities, built by and for surveillance and self-surveillance, bodies that are cogs in the pleasure- and profitproducing machine.
How can we be not be uneasy and on the alert in view of our opaque hyper-visibility? How can we not share the tremendous concern at seeing how our bodies and subjectivities are subject to speculation and commercialisation? How can we not share the sensation that the world is being “pornified”, the feeling that we connected beings are increasingly on our own? How can we not be concerned at our children growing up with ideas of bodies constructed by the entertainment industry, or that we ourselves show off our private world even though we are aware of the dangers this entails and the spurious use of big data?
Obviously, I share this alarm, the sensation of the banal aestheticisation of our bodies, of the “de-internalisation” of our lives and of the privatisation of our public arena (both physical and online), and I am not optimistic about the way things are going. I share the concern about the dangers of virtual relationships and their false identities, but let’s not forget that we also used to love to shed our identities on paper, and that Judith Butler was, and still remains, one of our benchmarks: bodies and genders and identities in dispute and interpretive torsion. Bodies and identities that refused and still refuse to be unambiguous and closed, as the heteropatriarchy demands, as required by a visual system that, being the political system that it is, entraps us within this systematic hegemony.
Remember that we opposed all this with the electric and liquid bodies of cybernetic imaginaries, polyglot androgyny and the pose, the Medusa effect and its spectacular ruse, described by Craig Owens as a form of reversing the paralysis of the stereotype by imitating it and bouncing it back, gaze upon gaze. Posing, imitation, passing, visual deception and fifth-columnism as a strategy for occupying spaces, discovering cracks and rending (or at least expanding) seams. This marvellous and terrible artefact, the digital world, which came into our lives in the 90s, fluctuates—depending upon its use and context—between imposed and numbing occupation and the liberating potential offered by millions of interconnected brains.
Digital images […] appear on our screens, build our subjectivities, connect our thoughts, articulate our outrage
We cannot completely either ignore or condemn them because, as you yourself pointed out, digital images (from spam to the most coveted film gems, and including our own archives and iconic contemporary documents) appear on our screens, build our subjectivities, connect our thoughts, articulate our outrage (sometimes caused by them). We are condemned, condemned to them, with them and by them.
However, we have also been warned for some time now of the relationship between images and power, and of the narcotising effect of the media’s “monoform”, as noted by Peter Watkins. That is why we must not, we cannot be naïve. We’re not allowed to be so, by our eyes, shaped by critical genealogies, our bodies, (con)formed by the liquid screen but nevertheless showing the first signs of the passing of time and of the after-effects of this work not regarded as work, which we carry on amidst an insecurity and conditions we could not have even imagined at the beginning of the 21st century, when we began to write and I also began to film and to film.
But I am going to raise myself above my natural pessimism. Perhaps because we will be facing fresh elections in a few days—ones seemingly more decisive than ever—which may lead to the snuffing out of our fragile democracy.
In the face of the neo-fascist onslaught, I am going to dig in to the new flesh and protect myself with the other genealogy that lights our way, and I will advocate to continue building, remixing and analysing images. Firstly, because, as a visual essayist, I firmly believe that images have the power to make the world think, and because I have faith in this attitude as a way of combatting the logocentrism that continues to shape our views. And, also, because images—and, specifically, images of bodies, of our bodies—are and should be an effective tool for fighting against stereotypes, for forging political links and for rethinking the quality of our human constructs.
I think of beautiful and encouraging uses and reimaginings of technology, such as the wonderful Cybersyn or Synco Project, which Salvador Allende’s Chile conceived as a response to the US’s ARPANET (the embryonic Internet of military origin) and I imagine its contemporary analogy: the very necessary and direct expropriation of leading platform-capitalism companies, and their putting into operation for the common good. There are other ways of using technologies and, like in the worlds of Paul Valery, they are, or can be, in this one. There are other genealogies, and they are also here. Shareable, inhabitable genealogies. For everyone.
Like art historian Georges Didi-Huberman, philosopher Jacques Rancière and my friend, the philosopher Andrea Soto Calderón, I believe in the “performative power” of images: images in spite of everything, as Didi-Huberman put it. And I would add: in spite of everything, images.
Forgive me for being so “vintage” today, but this awakening of the genealogical line has brought to mind an optimistic and visionary analyst of images, often mentioned by my friend Andrea Soto Calderón: Vilém Flusser.
Andrea explains in her article on Flusser, Juego e imaginación en Vilém Flusser (Playfulness and imagination in Vilém Flusser), how Flusser outlines three strategies that can be used in the game: “Play to win, at the risk of defeat. Or, play not to lose, to reduce the risk of defeat and for the possibility of victory. Or, play to change the game. In the first two strategies the player forms part of the game, and this game begins to become the universe in which he or she exists. With the third strategy, the game does not form part of the universe, and the player is ‘above the game’”.
This type of game theory, when applied to reading technical images (which, according to Flusser, should not be read in the same way as images built by the hand of man, as they are already the fruit of critical thought) would appear, to me, to be highly indicative of a potential strategy to be followed with digital representations: we should not “play” with/in digital devices and their representations with the aim of winning or losing, but rather to change the rules of the game.
In his 1985 book, Into the Universe of Technical Images (the Spanish translation of which, by the way, is subtitled A Eulogy of Superficiality), Flusser challenges us to be more than mere witnesses to certain processes of change and not to limit ourselves to an impotent feeling of not having any control whatsoever over them. The Czech/Brazilian writer asks us to think of technical images in terms of devices that do not reflect, but rather construct reality and, given this, our position cannot be one of passive acceptance, but we must instead learn to “change their rules” and adapt them to fit our needs, since it is through them that we “experience the world” (and therefore, I would add, build our history).
Although I completely share Laura Mulvey’s harsh diagnosis of visual pleasure and of the representations of our bodies, I would even say that images (and particularly images of bodies) are artefacts of enormous speculative, poetic and political power. We can (and should) devise interpretations of representations that open up possibilities of resisting the demands imposed by the arts regime and the media, that troll the capital gains and their impositions, that have the ability to be plurally thought and thinking: not even the edited exhibition of perfect bodies can escape the crack, and neither does the iron-willed self-control that we incorporate into biopolitics lack chinks. Nor does the indecent merchandising and reactionary censorship of Google, Facebook or YouTube encompass everything that we manage, albeit for a few seconds, to spread throughout the ‘net.
A sense of humour, poetry, the absurd, fictional distance and the analytical-Brechtian gap can make even a consumable and domesticated selfie an onion with different layers of political/poetic meanings, or a foolishly censored painting, like, as you noted in your first letter, Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World (1866), have different layers of rejoinder.
Whilst the media, in this case the French magazine Paris Match, “play the game”, confronting censorship with the tactic of diffusion, when it allegedly found a painting of the face of the model featured in the painting, trying to dignify her (as if her vagina wasn’t dignified enough), the art establishment plays the game of putting censorship on show, when, on 5 June 2014, performance artist Deborah de Robertis exhibited her body and her sex in front of the original canvas in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
But it was in this tweet (or retweet) on 25 September 2015 on Twitter, the social network, that proved the highest form of criticism of this censorship, using humour and ingenuity to point to a less paternalist, more active form of criticism, to “shift the goalposts”, to change the very game itself. This type of strategy is, I believe, more gutsy and politically effective in its apparent childishness, and provides a small example of how we can (and should) seize control of digital devices and platforms.
There are many points touched on in your letter that remain undeveloped, and one of them is of special interest to both of us: bodies that work and their representation; bodies at work and their imaginaries. So much work not acknowledged as such, our own work that is not regarded (or paid) as a “job” or paid with token gains.
But that’s for another letter, perhaps, if it’s alright with you. Maybe the next epistle. For the time being, let me say farewell with big hug and an even bigger wish to read what you have to say.
 A Cyborg Manifesto, is an essay written by Donna Haraway and published in 1985 in the Socialist Review. Full text of the article “Cyborg Manifesto” (an archived copy, in the Wayback Machine). It is the full text of the article: Haraway, Donna Jeanne (1991). “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”. Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge.
 Helen Hester, Xenofeminism, Polity Press, 2018.
 María Ruido, Ana Mendieta, Nerea, Hondarribia, 2002.
 Here, I would like to highlight—and pay tribute to—the women and publishers who translated in Spain the first texts on feminism and feminist film theory. Publishers like La Sal, Horas y horas, Episteme and Cátedra, who (in their feminism collections), since the end of the 60s, but most especially in the 70s, 80s and 90s, carried out invaluable work. And give special thanks to two points of reference in the field of feminist image analysis in Spain: Mar Villaespesa, through whom I first read Teresa de Lauretis (cf. the catalogue 100%, Government of Andalusia/Ministry of Culture, Seville, 1993) and Giulia Colaizzi, theorist and educator, who first translated Laura Mulvey into Spanish (cf. Laura Mulvey, Placer Visual y cine narrativo, Episteme, Valencia, 1988), translation of “Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Screen, Volume 16, Issue 3, Autumn 1975, Pages 6–18”.
 Cf. in this regard, to give some recent examples of texts warning about these issues within our context, the book by Remedios Zafra herself, Ojos y capital, Consonni, Bilbao, 2015, or the more recent work by Ingrid Guardiola, El ojo y la navaja. Un ensayo del mundo como interficie, Arcadia, Barcelona, 2019.
 Craig Owens, Beyond recognition. Representation, power and culture. University California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1992.
 Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen, Sternberg Press, 2012.
 Peter Watkins, La crisis de los medios, Pepitas de Calabaza, Logroño, 2017.
 Cf. Eden Medina, Cybernetic revolutionaries: Technology and politics in Allende’s Chile, MIT Press, 2011.
 Cf. the research project La performatividad de las imágenes (The performativity of images), carried out since the beginning of 2017 by philosopher Andrea Soto Calderón within the context of the Virreina LAB, La Virreina Centre de l’Imatge, Barcelona, http://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/lavirreina/en/activities/
performativity-images-strategies-and-operations/342 (last viewed on 05.05.2019).
 Andrea Soto Calderón, Juego e imaginación en Vilém Flusser, Flusser Studies 13, 2012, page 8 https://docplayer.es/15390734-Andrea-soto-calderon-juego-e-imaginacion-en-vilem-flusser.html
(last viewed on 27.04.2019).
 Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images, tr. Nancy Ann Roth, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
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