19.06.09 - 21.06.09

The Second Nomadikon Meeting

Bergen, Norway

Main venue: Studentsenteret, University of Bergen
Address: Parkveien 1



Image by Rutu Modan


Friday June 19

9.00 Words of Welcome

9.15 - 10.45
I. Extreme Images/The Body in Pain

Anders Michelsen (University of Copenhagen)
Atrocities and Imagination: Extreme Imagery - Preliminary Considerations

Siri Hempel Lindøe (Agder University)
Moving Images and the Mediation of Pain: The Implied Audience Position in Non-Fiction Stories About Human Suffering

Chair: Anders Michelsen


11.15 - 12.45
II. Photography, Iconicity, Suffering

Sigmund Trageton (University of Stavanger)
The Gaza Girl: Rhetoric and Public Discourses on the Basis of a Painful Image

Jens E. Kjeldsen (University of Bergen)
Formulas of Prize Winning Press Photos

Øyvind Vågnes (University of Bergen)
Becoming an Image of Pain: Self-Immolations

Chair: Øyvind Vågnes

13:00 Lunch

14.30 - 16.30
Documenting the Pain of Others

Jody McAuliffe (Duke University)
Gulag Follies

Stefano Odorico (University of Cork)
Violence of the Documentary Image: Morris's Standard Operating Procedure

Tara Milbrandt (University of Alberta)

Mediated Suffering and the Shock of the Image: From Abu Ghraib to Vancouver International Airport

Arild Fetveit (University of Copenhagen)

The Power of Photography and the Material Aesthetics of the Abu Ghraib Pictures

Chair: Arild Fetveit

Keynote Address

Mieke Bal (University of Amsterdam)
Unspeakable Pain: Regarding the Pain of Others

20.00 Dinner at På Høyden,


Saturday June 20

9.00 - 10.30
Images and Words

Charles I. Armstrong (University of Bergen)
The Vagaries of Terror: On Yeats' 'Leda and the Swan'

Siv Gøril Brandtzæg (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Sentimental Suffering: Visualization of Repression in Eighteenth Century Abolitionist Propaganda

Chair: Charles I. Armstrong

10.45 - 12.45
Spectatorship and the Politics of Viewing

Mark Ledbetter (The College of St. Rose, Albany, New York)
Do Not Look at Y[O]ur own Peril: Voyeurism as Ethical Necessity or To See As a Child Again

Mattias Frey (University of Kent)
The Pained Spectator: Towards a Theory of Walking Out

Frank Möller (University of Tampere)
Associates in Crime and Guilt: Viewers as Accomplices

Asbjørn Grønstad (University of Bergen)
The Unwatchable, or, the Fork in the Eye

Chair: Asbjørn Grønstad

13:00 Lunch

14.00 - 16.00
Roundtable Discussion: Images of Pain/Painful Images

Mark Ledbetter (The College of St. Rose, Albany), Jody McAuliffe (Duke University), Anders Michelsen (University of Copenhagen), Mark Reinhardt (Williams College), Marquard Smith (University of Westminster), Øyvind Vågnes (University of Bergen).

Chair: Asbjørn Grønstad

"Let us not invoke the unimaginable," Georges Didi-Huberman argues in Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz, where he suggests that we are both obliged and indebted to images of suffering, that we are "trustees, charged with sustaining them simply by looking at them."

Few phenomena are as formative for our experience of the visual world as displays of suffering. While graphic representations of pain may have the power to traumatize the viewer, there is a difference between disturbing images and images that disturb. The latter hone our ethical proficiency in that they implement a liturgy of looking which tests our moral experience by transgressing or enlarging it.

In this roundtable discussion we intend to address some of the central and recurring questions of the conference in a format that is somewhat less restrictive than the panel discussions: Is there an iconology of pain? And moreover, what is it about the current climate of images that would suggest such a question in the first place? In a time when the institutionalized discourse of power and the rhetoric of the mass media sanitize the reality of suffering, perhaps what is needed is a new critical conceptology that is able to resist the euphemisms so endemic to the vocabulary of political hegemonies?

18:00 Keynote Lecture
Mark Reinhardt (Williams College)
Sensational Images, or: The Aesthetics-Politics Relation

20:00 Dinner at Fløien,


Sunday June 21

9.30 - 10.30
Images and Science

Jon-Ove Steihaug (Independent scholar)
Scientific Horror

Harald Østgaard-Lund (National Library of Norway)
Two Points of View in Medical Photography

Chair: Jon-Ove Steihaug

11.00 - 13.00
Revisiting Pasts

Holger Pötzsch (University of Tromsø)
Beyond Mimesis, Visualising Painful Pasts: War, History, and Memory in Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers and Folman's Waltz with Bashir

Henrik Gustafsson (Skövde/Gothenburg )
Where Does It Hurt? Revisiting Crime Scenes in Non-fiction Film

Tonje Sørensen (University of Bergen)
'The King Shed Tears Watching Max Manus:' Visual Memory, War Films and Emotion

Jose Fonseca Hidalgo (University of Bergen)
Blood, Sweat and Tears: A Look at Opposite Functions of Pain in Fiction Film Narrative

Chair: Tonje Sørensen

About the presentations
Panelist have thirty minutes at their disposal - this includes the Q&A session. We have many speakers on the programme, so we kindly ask you to honor the format of the panels by timing your talk in accordance with the time stipulated.


To register for the conference, send an email to Gjartrud Kolås at before May 1. The registration fee is NKR 500 and includes four meals (lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday). Once you have registered, information about the payment procedure will be forthcoming. Please let us know if you have any special dietary needs, and notify us at least one week prior to the event if you intend to skip some of the meals.

Travel and Accommodation

Rica Hotel Bergen. Please contact (phone no: +47 55 36 29 17).

In order successfully to book your room, please use the following reference: 3524054 NOMADIKON.

Rica Hotel:


Bergen guide
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Welcome to Bergen!