Gradhiva n°13


Traps to be seen and conceived

Article series compiled by  Carlo Severi

This series of articles reflects on the role of ambiguity in visual representation, by anthropologists and art historians. Whether it hides potential, double or fanciful elements, the ambiguous image has recently caused food for thought in both disciplines and is being discussed in new terms. To find out more, we assembled research by ethnologists, as well as reflections on the exhibition "Une image peut en cacher une autre" (One image can hide another), where the theme of image ambiguity was addressed from an art history perspective.

In dialogue with art historians, ethnologists examine the concept of chimère, or illusion, around the world. In different cultures, the notion of what lies between the invisible and the visible can be quite different to Western perspectives – it can become radical and operate on a number of levels that go beyond mere vision.

It is the complexity of the ambiguous image, as well as the research possibilities that this complexity engenders within the fields of anthropology and art history that the current issue of Gradhiva seeks to explore.

Buy this issue online


Special issue: Traps to be seen and conceived. Images within images.

  • Introduction, by Carlo Severi
  • L’espace chimérique. Perception et projection dans les actes de regard (Chimeric space. Perception and projection in the act of looking), by Carlo Severi
  • Le masque de l’animiste. Chimères et poupées russes en Amérique indigène (The Animist’s Mask. Chimeras and Russian dolls in Indigenous America), by Carlos Fausto
  • Le graphisme sur les corps amérindiens. Des chimères abstraites ? (Native American body art as abstract chimeras?), by Els Lagrou
  • Flûtes des hommes, chants des femmes. Images et relations sonores chez les Kuikuro du Haut-Xingu (Men’s flutes and women’s songs. Images and Acoustic relations of the Kuikuro people of the Upper Xingu), by Bruna Franchetto and Tommaso Montagnani
  • Récursions chimériques. De l’anthropomorphisme des robots autonomes à l’ambiguïté de l’image du corps humain (Chimeric recursion. From the anthropomorphism of autonomous robots to the ambiguity of images of the human body), by Joffrey Becker 
  • Jean-Hubert Martin et la pensée visuelle (Jean-Hubert Martin on visual thought; interview), by Jean-Hubert Martin, Carlo Severi and Julien Bonhomme
  • Nubes cum figuris. L’interprétation des nuages comme paradigme moderne de la création et de la perception artistiques (Nubes cum figuris. Cloud interpretation as a modern paradigm for artistic creation and perception), by Dario Gamboni

Studies and essays

  • L’ethnographie comme chasse. Michel Leiris et les animaux de la mission Dakar-Djibouti (Ethnography as a form of hunting. Michel Leiris and the animals of the Dakar-Djibouti expedition), by Julien Bondaz
  • Les métamorphoses d’Omai (The metamorphoses of Omai), by Giordana Charuty
  • Images mémorables pour un texte immuable. Les catéchismes pictographiques testériens (Mexique, XVIe-XIXe siècles) (Memorable images for an immutable text. Pictographic Testerian catechisms (16th–19th century, Mexico)), by Bérénice Gaillemin

Scientific column

Book reviews


  • 240 pages
  • 170 illustrations
  • ISBN : 978-2-35744-042-5
  • 20 €