Roland Barthes (Cherbourg, 1915-Paris, 1980)
Breaking away from academic criticism in the postwar period, French critic and semiologist Roland Barthes developed an innovative approach inspired by modern linguistics, psychoanalysis, and anthropology. His wide-ranging analyses covered literature, film, photography, painting, and music, but also the writings of the historian Michelet or the theater of Racine. In Mythologies (1957), Barthes analyzes the representations of petty bourgeois ideology to demystify the ideological system present in everyday objects and stereotypes. With Writing Degree Zero (1953), he addresses the history of signs in literature. He was interested in the auxiliary systems of language through which values are indirectly transmitted. He was also one of the founders of the magazine Théâtre populaire, which was a forum for artistic, social, and political contestation.During the 1960s, the years of the "structuralist adventure," Barthes, following the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, attempted to constitute semiology as a "science that would study the life of signs within social life." Key writings of this period include Elements of Semiology (1964) and The Fashion System (1967). Here too the principles of articulation and combination of the language system serve as a model for analyzing discourse in literature, film, music, and even clothing. During this period, Barthes joined the group that had formed around the leftist review Tel Quel. With his Critical Essays (1964) and New Critical Essays (1972), he proposed free readings of La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, Robbe-Grillet, Loti, Bataile, Voltaire, Proust, Flaubert, Queneau, Tacitus, and Kafka. In The Pleasure of the Text (1975), the text is freed from theoretical discourses to generate a subjective discourse, a style affirming the intense pleasure (jouissance) of writing in contrast to the indifference of science and the Puritanism of ideological analysis. In Camera lucida (1980), he offers a personal reading of photography.
Bibliography of works in English translation: Writing Degree Zero (1953, tr. 1968). Mythologies (1957, tr. 1972). On Racine (1963, tr. 1964). Critical Esssays (1964, tr. 1972). Criticism and Truth (1966, tr. 1987). The Fashion System (1967, tr. 1983). S/Z (1970, tr. 1974). Empire of Signs (1970, tr. 1982). Sade, Fourier, Loyola (1971, tr. 1976). The Pleasure of the Text (1972, tr. 1975). Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (1975, tr. 1977). A Lover's Discourse: Fragments (1977, tr. 1978). The Grain of the Voice (1981, tr. 1985). Writer Sollers (1979, tr. 1987). Camera Lucida (1980, tr. 1981). The Responsibility of Forms (L'Obvie et l'obtus, 1982, tr. 1985). The Rustle of Language (1984, tr. 1986). Incidents (1987, tr. 1992).

Raymond Bellour (France, 1939- )
Critic and theorist of literature and film, Raymond Bellour is a senior researcher at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and conducts a seminar at the University of Paris. He was one of the founders of the French film review Trafic, to which he contributes regularly on both film and video. He has edited several key film anthologies, including Le cinéma américain (1980) and Le Western (1966). His study L'Entre-Images : Photo, Cinéma, Vidéo (1990) analyzes the passages between images and the video image's power of transformation: "Between photo, film, video, the inter-image space (l'entre-images) is a passageway. The place where images pass today." Bellour also served as co-curator with Christine Van Assche and Catherine David of the well-known "Passages de l'image" exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1990. His most recent work is an essai on Chris Marker's CD-ROM Imemory (1997).
Bibliography of works available in English translation: Eye for I: Video Self-Portraits (New York: Independent Curators Inc., 1989). With Laurent Roth, Qu'est-ce qu'une madeleine? A propos du CD-ROM Immemory de Chris Marker(Brussels and Paris: Yves Gevaert Editeur/Centre Georges Pompidou, 1997, bilingual French/English).
Edited works: With Elisabeth Lyon, "Unspeakable Images", Camera Obscura 24 (1991). Jean-Luc Godard: son + image (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1992).

Body Art
While Body Art is an outgrowth of the happening, it differs from them as an individual act not intended to be repeated. In most instances, photographs and videos are the only traces of the action and come to replace the work itself. Among the key figures of Body Art are the Americans Vito Acconci and Denis Oppenheim, the Italian Gina Pane, the Frenchman Michel Journiac, and the Swiss Urs Lüthi. Body Art is rooted in poetry. Acconci went from words to the page and from the page to the body, while Journiac's Le Sang nu (Naked Blood, 1968) expressed his desire to make the body a language of creation. For Acconci and Pane, bodily action was accompanied by psychological preparation, notes, and sketches; the action came to an end when the artists felt that the situation had been altered. The aggression of the audience was a major element of Body Art, with the work's aesthetic depending on its ability to disrupt the public's ways of thinking and put an end to its passive state. Effort, risk, and pain, but also posturing and travesty, were essential aspects of Body Art. The Austrians Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, and Otto Muehl were to occupy an important place--between happening and Body Art--because of their brutal actions that combined all the behaviors hidden by society and thus forced viewers to call themselves into question. A number of other artists, including Bruce Nauman, Lucas Samaras, Terry Fox, Chris Burden, and Gilbert & George, were to make their bodies a privileged terrain for their work. The first major exhibition of Body Art was held in Paris in 1975 at the Stadler Gallery, which published the first Body Art manifesto.