History/Context

Suzanne Muzard; Photobooths and Surrealists

Here’s some cool pictures of Suzanne Muzard, apparently the inspiration of Nadja by André Breton: from here. (DEFINITELY CHECK IT OUT!)

But it turns out she wasn’t the only one who liked to take pictures in photo booths. Prattle and Jaw, a pretty cool blog, has a post containing all kinds of cool photo booth pictures of surrealists.

Raymond Queneau

I don’t really know why these pictures happened, and Prattle and Jaw don’t say much on the subject, but it seems like the fixed space and unpredictability of photo booths make them a pretty fun automatic game.

Actually, just googled it and found this wonderful article on The Atlantic: “André in Wonderland: In 1928 the first photobooth arrived in Paris – and for Breton and the surrealists, it was a dream come true” by Jonathan Jones. This article is a really lovely short history of surrealisms and its factions, and also provides some context to the pictures on Prattle and Jaw’s blog post. Here’s a great excerpt:

In The Manifesto of Surrealism he issued in 1924, Breton defines surrealism as “pure psychic automatism”. Automatism and the automatic: the photomaton was a readymade surrealist photography that removed the conscious, controlling mind of the photographer and took a stream of images too quickly for the sitter to compose her or himself in any but the most basic ways. The close range of the portraits and the flat background add to the sense of being surprised, taken aback, even abused, that we feel after sitting for a strip of passport pictures. The brutality that makes photomaton portraits uncomfortable makes them, for the surrealists, insightful.

I’m thinking the French majors I study with need to somehow make this part of the end of the year party.

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