Frances’s articles expand on lines of enquiry that began in her books, always with a focus on twentieth-century film and visual culture
“Re-presenting Histories: Documentary Film and Architectural Ruins in Brutality in Stone.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, no. 21, 2021, pp. 13–34.
This article rereads Alexander Kluge and Peter Schamoni’s short film Brutality in Stone (1961) in light of more contemporary scholarly interest in the architectural ruin.
Wessel’s photographs challenge our certainty of the distinctions that facilitate understanding of the physical world, particularly as we know it through images. The works question the assumptions of photographic realism, as well as our relationship to photographs.
“Un autre temps, un autre lieu. Retour sur les sculptures de Richard Serra à la Ruhr,” Trans. Christèle Jany, Faces 76, Special Issue on Art and Urban Spaces, 2019, pp. 45-72.
I reconsider two sculptures by the American artist Richard Serra. Both Terminal (1977) and Bramme für das Ruhrgebiet (1998) were commissioned with the goal of encouraging reflection on the significance of the context in which they were placed, namely the Ruhr region in Germany.
“Invisibility Abhors a Photograph: On Jane and Louise Wilson’s installation art,” Journal of Visual Art Practice, vol. 17, no. 2, May 2018, pp. 188-205.
This article examines the power of invisibility to provoke and unsettle in two of the Wilson’s installations: Stasi City (1997) and A Free and Anonymous Monument (2003). The two installations are distinct, and by no means repeat their claims. Nevertheless, their juxtaposition gives insight into some of the different guises of invisibility threaded through two of the Wilson’s most visible installations. Through an exposure of the invisible, I argue that the Wilson sisters’ experimental images and installations are involved in a complex multi–layered critique of otherwise secret political and ideological structures, structures and systems that are in every way off-limits. The two installations do not just make visible what is invisible – state crimes, personal violation, abandonment, social neglect – they probe this invisibility and find what it is not permissible to visualize.
“Physically Absent, Visually Present: Joachim Schumacher’s Photographs of Germany’s Ruhr Valley,” Journal of European Studies, Vol. 47, no. 4, December 2017, pp. 392-410.
This article examines the photographs of Joachim Schumacher for their vision of a landscape haunted by the forgotten, the silenced and the increasingly invisible lives erased by the re-articulation of Germany’s Ruhr region. The article places Schumacher’s work in relationship to post-war German photography, both that which imagines the memories of World War II and the Holocaust, as well as the 1980s urban photographs of the Düsseldorf School photographers. Within this context, Schumacher’s photographs are understood for their location of place and history on the revitalized Ruhr landscape. In addition, the article considers the photographs in relationship to the New Topographics to demonstrate their simultaneous placelessness. In this international context, Schumacher’s photographs can be seen as indicative of a European placelessness that has emerged in the wake of the closure of mining and industry.
“The Ambiguity of Amateur Photography in Modern Warfare,” New Literary History, vol. 48, no. 1, 2017, 53-74.
This article addresses a number of questions regarding the changing status and resultant interpretations of amateur photographs of war in the twentieth century. It reconsiders the photographs of the German army soldiers during World War II and the photographs taken in Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war with a view to finding a new approach to contemporary amateur photographs. This new approach shifts away from the study of the contents of the image to a focus on its ongoing reception and ideological effects. The article asks the following questions among others: Are amateur photographs of war and battlefields possible today? Or do amateur photographers and their portrayals of war belong to a bygone era? Have the provocations of amateur images that resist official versions of war been lost to the proliferation of digital possibilities, the overwhelming impact of consumer culture, and the domination of the mass media? Has the disquieting potential of the amateur vanished amid the glut of images of war and violence? If the answer to all these questions is no, then how can we identify amateur photographs of war?
Even if She Had Been a Criminal: A Past Unwatched,” in Nicholas Baer, et.al. (eds.), Unwatchable, Rutgers University Press, 2019, pp. 92-96.
Jean-Gabriel Périot’s film Eût-elle été une criminelle (Even If She Had Been a Criminal, 2006) recycles footage of les femmes tondues, women ritualistically shorn for “horizontal collaborations” with the Nazis during the occupation. The images are now very familiar, having been often republished over the past twenty-five years. However, Périot’s film claims that they must be watched again if the chain of repetition of the past is to be broken.