Ødelæggelsens billeder

Ikonoklasme som billedskabende protestsprog





Ikonoklasme, billeder, protestsprog, statuer, monumenter, graffiti


During the past years statues and monuments that were previously invisible, have now become impossible to overlook. The contestation of monuments commemorating questionable aspects of European and American history culminated in 2020 with the unauthorized removal of several statues. While iconoclasm has always been a part of protests, the paradox of iconoclasm today is that it is both perceived as vandalism (deemed not compatible with democracy) and as an important tool for democratization. 

With this paradox as a starting point, this paper questions the perception of iconoclasm as a solely destructive act, by examining it as an image-creating protest language. Through an analysis of three examples of contemporary events, the article argues that these events are producing images as much as they are destroying them. The images created at these events are an important part of the protests that provided these images – both in the articulation and communication of the protest and in the visualization of what is being protested. 

The article suggests that this kind of image-creating iconoclasm works as a transformative image analysis that analyzes images (like statues and monuments) through a physical and/or symbolic intervention. This way, the analysis transforms the image into a tool for resistance: A monument once celebrating an oppressor, now broken and covered in graffiti, is transformed into an object for those who it oppressed and those who resisted. 


Terne Thorsen, Københavns Universitet

Institut for Kunst- og Kulturvidenskab, Københavns Universitet


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Thorsen, T. (2023). Ødelæggelsens billeder: Ikonoklasme som billedskabende protestsprog. K&K - Kultur Og Klasse, 51(134-135), 193–216. https://doi.org/10.7146/kok.v51i134-135.137185