For Whom the Bell Tolls: Memeing French Landscape on Instagram

Meredith L. Pruden
2019 Vista  
On the evening of April 15, 2019, hoary plumes of smoke erupted from Notre-Dame Cathedral and rolled across the rooftops of the Ile de la Cité in Paris, France. World leaders expressed their condolences over the loss, and many experts publicly warned that, though it can be rebuilt, the 12th-century monument to Catholicism will never "be the same". By the end of the next day, cathedral bells tolled across the city in honor of the devastating fire and hundreds of millions in euros already had
more » ... ros already had been pledged, with the uber-wealthy leading the way. In the days that followed the fire, the fire and fundraising efforts garnered a veritable tempest of media coverage and ignited a social media fervor. The hashtag #NotreDameFire trended on Twitter, spread virally across Facebook and, to date, has garnered almost 22,000 posts on Instagram. Much of this online popular discourse has not been as kind and can be read as a form of political struggle around the meaning and identity of Notre-Dame waged on the digital archive of Instagram. This article examines the #NotreDameFire hashtag on Instagram, reading the associated visuals through the framework set out by Cara A. Finnegan in Making Photography Matter: A Viewer's History from the Civil War to the Great Depression. It considers Finnegan's presence, character, appropriation and magnitude in the context of Instagram as an archive of, in this case, both site and sight of one imperial landscape — Notre-Dame Cathedral.
doi:10.21814/vista.3044 fatcat:wgwerikwtrdorm4cqdamwlj7ia