Pau Waelder


Extimacy: surveillance and self-exposure

On November 5th I took part in a series of lectures on the subject of extimacy in the framework of the Panoràmic Festival, devoted to photography, film, and visual culture. The lecture was to take place at the Mapfre Foundation’s KBr Photography Center in Barcelona, but due to the pandemic it took place online.

The lecture series was organized by artist Joan Fontcuberta and included the participation of leading artists, theorists, and filmmakers such as Sophie Calle, Antoine D’Agata, Lolita Bosch, and Mireia Sallarès. Videos of all lectures can be found here.

I share, therefore I am: surveillance and self-exposure

“Pics or it didn’t happen” is an expression commonly used in Internet forums to indicate that a statement must be demonstrated with images to be credible. If there is no image, the event never existed. In social networks such as Instagram or TikTok, participation is structured on the basis of images, but what is shared are not mere experiences, but extensions of the self: by publishing photos and videos, we expose our private life in order to reinforce our ego by counting likes. Surveillance and scrutiny of our intimacy are not imposed, but sought, in order to complete the self with that part that depends on others and that Jacques Lacan defined as “the extimate.” Through what we share, we complete the image of the self, we see ourselves reflected in others and therefore, we exist.

In this talk we will explore the status of the image in relation to how intimacy is mediated by social networks and the digital devices that surround us, emphasizing the critical readings that artists and thinkers have made of it.