Horror Vacui

Hidden Photographs and the Counter-Archive





Atrocity, Representation, Counter-archive, memorial, museum


Horror vacui – the fear of the void, is overcome in the two instances of counter-archival practice examined here: Real Pictures, an installation by the artist Alfredo Jaar, and Holocaust Museum, by the poet Robert Fitterman. Both works have at their center, photographs from the realm of atrocity that are, in different ways, rendered invisible to viewers or readers – a representational void is staged. This article is an exploration of the implications of this perverse mode of representation. The archive, conceived here following the Foucauldian idea, as an engine of epistemic regulation has one of its primary mechanisms – the binding of text to image ­– removed. The resulting (counter-archival) effect is the disruption of superimposed logic, and the opening up of both invisible image and decontextualized words to active forms of imagining.


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Author Biography

Paul Grace, Independent Writer

Paul Grace is a writer based in the north-west of England whose work explores the representation of violence, social trauma and conflict. The treatment of these in art, film and memorializing practices have provided a key focus. Recently published works examine instances of counter-archival works by Nicole Jolicoeur, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarinand Thomas Hirschhorn. A chapter about monument removal ‘Dissolution of the Monuments’ is scheduled for publication in 2024 in Toppling Things Affect and Monument Removal.  


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How to Cite

Grace, P. (2024). Horror Vacui: Hidden Photographs and the Counter-Archive. Archivo Papers, 4, 51–68. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.12544269