Conjuring Live Bodies: Reading Sarah Kofman’s encounter with Rembrandt

Vráblíková, Lenka. 2022. 'Conjuring Live Bodies: Reading Sarah Kofman’s encounter with Rembrandt'. In: 7th Derrida Today Conference. Arizona State University, Washington DC, United States 12 - 15 June 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores deconstruction at the border of life by centering the question of the body. As its point of departure, the paper takes an interview that I conducted with Anne Emmanuelle Berger entitled ‘Live Body’ (2019), where the latter contemplates on the question of the body in the Western intellectual tradition and its current developments. From the very beginning, the interview positions the question of the body as a matter of life and death. Following Freudian psychoanalysis, Anne E. Berger deconstructs the assumed familiarity of what the living and dead bodies are and could be. As she asserts, the lived-in or live bodies ‘are not only in motion but each body in emotion’ and thus also unique as a result of the singular experience of the exposure to the others and the world. ‘The live or lived-in body as such’, she further contends, ‘cannot be properly represented, or perhaps it can only be approached figuratively, by means of a complex tropology’. Drawing from Anne E. Berger’s meditations on the lived-in or live body in relation to the limits of representation, the paper reads Sarah Kofman’s encounter with Rembrandt in order to explore how European painting have grappled with the discourse on the body instigated by Western modernity. In a final and unfinished text ‘Conjuring Death: Remarks on The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Nicolas Tulp (1632)’ published posthumously in English in 2007, Sarah Kofman provides a reading of Rembrandt’s display of a ‘scientific gaze’ of a corporation of doctors who just moved their attention from a corpse of a man laid out before them to a book at his foot. Following Pleshette DeArmitt’s (2011) reading of Sarah Kofman’s essay, the paper speculates on the display of this move and the live bodies it makes possible.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


June 2022Completed

Event Location:

Arizona State University, Washington DC, United States

Date range:

12 - 15 June 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2024 10:02

Last Modified:

26 Mar 2024 10:02


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