In the field of art history, the problem of the image has always been a broad, diverse and hot topic. The concept of image has been approached by various analysts and theorists who have debated it in different forms and nuances, in phrases such as: visual image, conceptual image, “symptom image”, “fate image” or “force image” (Carl Einstein), object image, dialectical image (Walter Benjamin), contemplative image (Immanuel Kant) and so on. The mechanisms of image approach and reception must be discussed in relation to its evolution along the historical path of art. According to Georges Didi-Huberman, personalities such as Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg and Marc Bloch, embraced the idea of “non-knowledge” in their research, with the desire to encourage new knowledge and new forms of knowledge. Compared with ignorance, “non-knowledge” refers to a different kind of knowledge, while the former refers to the complete lack of knowledge. In this context, one should mention Carl Einstein’s significant contribution, namely the reconsideration of the concept of art history. In this way, art history as a discipline can be considered from a different angle, one that does not insist on classifications, periods and movements, but sees it as “a continuous struggle” connecting and updating different past actions and phenomena through the viewpoint of the contemporary world.

Once we are in possession of this minimal set of tools, we can start with an in-depth examination of the image and how it works on the perception level, by discussing certain artworks displayed at the Chronic Desire exhibition. To summarize the description of some of the image types mentioned above, we turn to the analysis of the concept of visual thinking and the fact that “seeing is not perceiving”, which implies, in Carl Einstein’s view, the need to broaden our perception. According to W. Benjamin’s dialectical image, the term “transvisuality” which has to do with a thorough scanning of what is perceived through a system of interconnected elements, operates in the form of a dialectical approach of sight and vision, sight and memory, sight and notion, sight and feeling. Both in Tarek Atoui’s artistic approach and in that of Saskia Holmkvist, one can notice a belonging to this way of building the image. Saskia’s working method noticeable in Back Translati(on)(ng) (KLub), which consists of a performative action in the form of a video material, involves the idea of the unexpected and the strange. The idea of the strange has to do with that something that seems familiar, but at the same time remains hidden by a mysterious shadow. Three other elements can be added to this equation: desire, gaze and language. In Jacques Lacan’s theory, the mechanism of the unconscious is connected to a systematic, structured variant in which desire, gaze and language are implications of the unconscious. In Lacan’s opinion, desire paradoxically means rather the desire of an absence than the desire of a presence.

Installation as a working environment and performativity as a way of expression represent the tools of Tarek Atoui, who proposes different scenographies by means of sound devices and instruments designed by him. Rhythm, architecture, traditional sounds and experimental noises are part of Tarek’s palette. His act emits a complex image that questions space, body, sense and perception.

If, within the perimeter of art, we consider image to be a conglomerate of aspects such as space, form, time, distance, artistic manifestation, movement, intersection, etc., what would it mean to interact with image? It would mean looking and trying to feel “what the gaze opens to thinking.” Therefore, all these elements and considerations can turn into a mind game and a manifestation of the spirit for one who observes and weighs them.