everybody – a political iconography

‘Everybody’ refers to a type of figure used in films and photography, but also in political popularisation processes and advertising or in the internet, to appeal to “all of us” and to testify to the truth or reality of what is portrayed.
In this project we are aiming to draw up a cultural-historical iconography of the figure of everybody (which is also the nobody, the common man, the common women, the girl next door) with a particular focus on its more recent history. We are locating exemplary figures of the everybody in a longer tradition of political-democratic figures of popularisation that began with the change towards potential republican or democratic political systems in the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally we are critically and comparatively discussing current philosophical conceptualisations of the everybody as a figure of thought for the diagnosis of the present (for example in the work by René Girard, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Friedrich Kittler or Michel de Certeau) as they appear in relation to the examples of visual culture being studied.
By completing these goals we are analysing the mediating, socialising and mobilising role the figure of the everybody exercises in a contemporary context, marked by increasing mobile, plural and often transitory group-building processes, by a celebration of ‘individual initiative’ and a pronounced scepticism vis à vis the universal.
The project receives funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2015–2018).