What do photographs want? Do they need any accompaniment in today’s image-saturated society? Can writing inflect photography (or vice versa) in such a way that neither medium takes precedence? Or are they in constant, inexorable battle with each other? Taking nine case studies from the 1990s French-speaking world (from France, North Africa and the Caribbean), this book attempts to define the interaction between non-fictional written text (caption, essay, fragment, poem) and photographic image. Having considered three categories of ‘intermediality’ between text and photography – the collaborative, the self-collaborative and the retrospective – the book concludes that the dimensions of their interaction are not simple and two-fold (visuality versus/alongside textuality), but threefold and therefore ‘complex’. Thus, the photo-text, as defined here, is concerned as much with orality – the demotic, the popular, the vernacular – as it is with visual and written culture. That text-image collaborations give space to the spoken, spectral traces of human discourse, suggests that the key element of the photo-text is its radical provisionality.
Andy Stafford’s book is a welcome and attractive publication to the fast-growing field of intermediality studies, and an exciting enrichment of a series that opens new ways in the study of postcolonial Francophony.
The notes and the bibliography alone merit the acquisition of this work. A richer source on the topic of photo and text is difficult to imagine.
Hans Durrer, Across Cultures
This is a densely written but highly readable book, an invaluable resource for students of photography and scholars interested in the relationship between photography and writing/speaking — or, indeed, in any configuration of image and text.
Akane Kawakami, French Studies, vol 67, no 1