The Container-Image. Warburg in the Age of Cargomobility

Prof. Emmanuel Alloa

Université de Fribourg

Wednesday, 18 January 2023, 5.30 pm (GMT)

ONLINE Lecture, hosted by the Warburg Institute.

Free and open to all via Zoom; please register via the Warburg Institute events page.

Allan Sekula, Noel Burch, The Forgotten Space (still frame), film essay (NL/AT, 2010).

With his concept of “Bilderfahrzeug”, Aby Warburg reminds us that the problem of the logic of images is inseparable from a problem logistics of images. The life of forms (their survival, passage and migration) must be combined with a reflection on the infrastructures that allow their movement, on their “migratory routes” (Wanderwege) across border regimes. In his own way, Warburg anticipated a reflection on the visual economy in the age of globalisation. Taking Allan Sekula’s Fish Story project as a starting point, we will reflect on the strange parallels between the development of cargomobilities in the exchange of goods and the new formats of standardised visibilities. What reserves, what latent powers does the image hold in store? If Warburg’s metaphor of the image as an energy conserve (Energiekonserve) is to mean anything, we must reflect its political as well as ecological implications for the present. Beyond logics of depletion and exhaustion, how to think a dynamis of the image that insists on its unexplored potentials of inactuality? Between border regimes of containment and the real-time delivery promise made by a global mediascape, how to unbox the promises of alternate ways of seeing and doing the image contains?

The Bilderfahrzeuge Lecture series 2022/23 – Border Regimes

From the reality of geopolitical boundaries to arguments over national styles and disciplinary limitations, border regimes are a pervasive part of academic work and our everyday world. But what kinds of associations can be made between divisions of scholarship, divisions of artistic production, and divisions of nation states? It is a commonplace to note that knowledge and art transcend boundaries and bring politics with them; but are some forms of knowledge and some forms of art more nationalistically constrained than others?  Today, art historians are prone to celebrate Aby Warburg’s warning against the biases of disciplinary border guards (grenzpolizeiliche Befangenheit), yet scholarly boundaries can also help establish academic rigor and Warburg’s ideal of breaking down boundaries could well be correlated with his distinctly German milieu and its holistic ideal of Bildung. This lecture series brings together art historians working on “border regimes” in every sense of the phrase, querying the positive, negative, and ambiguous dimensions to this ubiquitous concept.  How does this issue apply to different historical and geographic periods of artistic production and how do those differences relate to art historiography both past and present?

Cite this blog post
Stuart Moss (2022, December 19). The Container-Image. Warburg in the Age of Cargomobility. BILDERFAHRZEUGE. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from

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