Fran Benavente-Burian e-mail(Login required) , Santiago Fillol e-mail(Login required) , Glòria Salvadó-Corretger e-mail(Login required)

Main Article Content


Fran Benavente-Burian e-mail(Login required)
Santiago Fillol e-mail(Login required)
Glòria Salvadó-Corretger e-mail(Login required)



In this article, we examine the visual motif of the corpse and its presence in the public sphere in times of pandemic from an iconographic, political and anthropological perspective. Through the analysis of the representation of the dead body in images presented by modern media, we reflect on how the formal and iconographic schemes of presentation of death were transformed following the irruption of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. The pandemic scheme, which is unusual from a political and anthropological perspective, assumes a particular approach to the problem of the representation of the dead body (anonymous body, carrier of a virus), encrypted in a dialectic between systematic omission and censorship and displacement of the representation of death towards the cumulative symmetry of empty pits or coffins that prefigure the corpse to come. Pandemic iconography, often based on science fiction imagery, outlines the dehumanized restlessness of a dystopian future. Under these exceptional conditions, some corpses, which are a priori anonymous, stand out, showing, even in the suspended space of Covid-19, the permanence of structural schemes of violence that must be denounced and fought in the present. With that in mind, we also examine the corpses claimed by Black Lives Matter and their distinctive representations, which are very different from those of the victims of the epidemic. Finally, through these references and based on the media treatment of Diego Armando Maradona’s body, we consider the significance of the return of the iconic corpse to the center of the public sphere, which imposes a regime of extreme visibility and goes beyond the representative limits of pandemic exceptionality.


Corpse, visual motif, COVID-19, Balck Lives Matter, iconography, death, visual culture


Adorno, T. (2004). Negative Dialectics. E. B. Ashton (Trans.). London: Routledge.

Adorno, T. (1990). Terminología filosófica I. New York: The Continuum Internationl Publishing Group.

Agamben, G. (2020). ¿En qué punto estamos? La epidemia como política. Barcelona: Adriana Hidalgo.

Ariès. P. (2005). Historia de la muerte en occidente: desde la Edad Media hasta nuestros días. Barcelona: Acantilado.

Ariès, P. (2011). El hombre ante la muerte. Barcelona: Taurus.

Balló, J. (2000). Imágenes del silencio. Los motivos visuales en el cine. Barcelona: Anagrama.

Balló, J. & Pintor, I. (2019). Editorial. Iconographies in the public sphere. Fiction devices in the representation of power. Comparative Cinema, VII(12), 5-6.

Barthes, R. (1990). La cámara lúcida. Barcelona: Paidós.

Barthes, R. (2004). Lo neutro. México: Siglo XXI.

Berardi, F. (2014). And. Phenomenology of the End. Helsinki: Aalto ARTS Books.

Burns, S. (2019) “Las fotografías del archivo Burns” y Les Demoiselles d’Avignon y la fascinación de Pablo Picasso con la destrucción facial sifilítica. In M. Morcate & R. Pardo (Eds.), La imagen desvelada. Prácticas fotográficas en la enfermedad, la muerte y el duelo (pp. 61-78). Vitoria: Sans Soleil.

Han, B.-C. (2020). La desaparición de los rituales. Barcelona: Herder.

Didi-Huberman, G. (2012). Peuples exposés, peuples figurants. Paris: Minuit.

Didi-Huberman, G. (2019). Ninfa dolorosa. Essai sur la mémoire d’un geste. Paris: Gallimard.

Edwards, E. E (2018). The modernist corpse. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Guiomar, M. (1967). Principes d’un esthétique de la mort. Paris: José Corti.

Klee, P. (2013). Creative confessions and other writings. London: Tate Publishing.

Kristeva, J. (1980). Pouvoirs de l’horreur. Essai sur l’abjection. Paris: Seuil.

Lipovetsky, G. & Serroy, J. (2009). La pantalla global: cultura mediática y cine en la era hipermoderna. Barcelona: Anagrama.

Mirzoeff, N. (2017). The Appearance of Black Lives Matter. NAME Publications. Retrieved from

Mirzoeff, N. (2018). Tactics of Appearance for Abolition Democracy #BlackLivesMatter. Critical Inquiry, Chicago. Retrieved from

Pintor, I. (2020, 28 April). Iconographies of the Pandemic. Retrieved from

Rankine, C. (2016). The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning. In J. Ward (Ed.), The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (pp. 145-156). New York: Scribner.

Schwarz, M. (2015). Dead matter: The meaning of iconic corpses. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Thomas, L.-V. (1980). Le cadavre. De la biologie à l’anthropologie. Paris: Complexe.

Warburg, A. (2005). El renacimiento del paganismo. Aportaciones a la historia cultural del renacimiento europeo. Madrid: Alianza.


Search GoogleScholar


Article Details

Special Issue: Visual motifs and representations of power in the public sphere