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A Photograph of Classroom:

An Illustration for Benjamin's Theses on the Philosophy of History IX  2010


A 100-days-exposure photograph in a high school classroom in Beijing. Named "an illustration for Walter Benjamin's Theses on the Philosophy of History, no. IX":


My wing is ready to fly

I would rather turn back

For had I stayed mortal time

I would have had little luck.

- Gerhard Scholem, Angelic Greetings


A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. ((David Christian, "Acceleration," in Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, California: University of California Press, 2004, Part V, pp. 441-42) Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History," in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn, London: Jonathan Cape, 1970, no. IX, pp. 259-60.)



Related work(s):

Three Types of Presenting Absentee  2015