This essay focuses on the existential and artistic story of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, the Swiss photographer who as a photojournalist in the early decades of the 20th century chronicled the world through a lens that, among other courageous undertakings, allowed her to document the tragic assimilation of the Nazi dictatorship in Europe. Schwarzenbach herself, however, was also the subject of many photographic portraits that friends and fellow travelers took of her. Thanks to those photographs a sort of biography in pictures has been built up over time featuring the peculiarities of an original testimony of an unconventional identity and a lesbian chic gender choice. Thus, by means of her clothes and style, photographed and thus potentially reproducible, Annemarie Schwarzenbach laid the foundations for an operation of visual concretization of her own legend, i.e., the possibility of becoming a fashion mass icon. In recent years major fashion designers have drawn on her story and those of other non-conformist and politically engaged female photographers as inspiration for their collections. As a result, they break out of elitist academic and research circles and paradoxically become pop and fashion icons. Characters digested by the glittering world of fashion, certainly generalized and simplified in meaning, but at the same time with the possibility of a spatial and temporal extension of a truly global diffusion that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. The essay is divided into three sections: the first section introduces the question of the translation made by fashion of transgressive figures transformed into fashion icons; the second and third sections focus on the relationship between Schwarzenbach and photography, and how this relationship forms the foundation for the two elements of inspiration and translation operated by pop and fashion cultures on her: gender politics and anti-Nazi resistance.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach as a Woman Photographer and a Fashion Icon. Gender Politics and Anti-Nazi Resistance

F. Muzzarelli
2022

Abstract

This essay focuses on the existential and artistic story of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, the Swiss photographer who as a photojournalist in the early decades of the 20th century chronicled the world through a lens that, among other courageous undertakings, allowed her to document the tragic assimilation of the Nazi dictatorship in Europe. Schwarzenbach herself, however, was also the subject of many photographic portraits that friends and fellow travelers took of her. Thanks to those photographs a sort of biography in pictures has been built up over time featuring the peculiarities of an original testimony of an unconventional identity and a lesbian chic gender choice. Thus, by means of her clothes and style, photographed and thus potentially reproducible, Annemarie Schwarzenbach laid the foundations for an operation of visual concretization of her own legend, i.e., the possibility of becoming a fashion mass icon. In recent years major fashion designers have drawn on her story and those of other non-conformist and politically engaged female photographers as inspiration for their collections. As a result, they break out of elitist academic and research circles and paradoxically become pop and fashion icons. Characters digested by the glittering world of fashion, certainly generalized and simplified in meaning, but at the same time with the possibility of a spatial and temporal extension of a truly global diffusion that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. The essay is divided into three sections: the first section introduces the question of the translation made by fashion of transgressive figures transformed into fashion icons; the second and third sections focus on the relationship between Schwarzenbach and photography, and how this relationship forms the foundation for the two elements of inspiration and translation operated by pop and fashion cultures on her: gender politics and anti-Nazi resistance.
2022
F.Muzzarelli
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/911950
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