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Violence and War in Culture and the Media by Athina Karatzogianni

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5    Hidden conflict, visible world

Keith Tester

Introduction

The question was posed by Edouard Manet in The Execution of Emperor Maximilian now in the Mannheim Kunsthalle. In the bottom right hand corner of the canvas there is a shadow, but whose? Within the narrative of the painting it might belong to a soldier who is loading his rifle just like the one to whom the shadow points. But that doesn't seem to be quite right, because the shape of the shadow is of an onlooker on the scene. It is, in fact, the shadow of the spectator. It is mine and yours. It is the shadow of Manet and everyone who will stand before the canvas in the future. Put another way, it is the shadow of someone who is a bystander, neither victim nor perpetrator. Manet's painting ...

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