A talk with Dr Daniel Kowalsky
Few visions of modernity are more potent than that of the itinerant interwar camerawoman: clad in trousers, ranging across public squares, valleys and mountains, mixing with militias, and armed with a Leica or Rolleiflex.
No longer models but making muses of men, Dora Maar (1907-1997) Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-1942) and Gerda Taro (1910-1937) forged a new metier: the female photojournalist. Their cameras firstly set them apart, but their uniquely modernist materiality is discernible elsewhere, as this lecture will explore.
Maar and Taro’s rearranging of gendered career templates began with existential self-reinventions, or baptisms: they broke with tradition by boldly taking on new names, even if both had their legacy subsequently obscured by male partners.
Schwarzenbach’s personal rebellion was more thorough: she repudiated not only the militant Prussian penchant of her parents, but demolished by example the image of Alpine health and political neutrality of her native Switzerland. Fiercely anti-fascist, lesbian, and a noted drug addict, Schwarzenbach’s personal life is as fascinating as her sprawling photographic oeuvre. In contrast to Maar and Taro, Schwarzenbach’s legacy was initially veiled not by male partners, but by her mother and grandmother.
With detailed iconographical analysis of rare photographs, this talk argues that these three interwar photojournalists are emblematic of the conjuncture of années trente modernism, political propaganda, media and technology.
Thursday 15th June, 1 pm | Performance Area | Free
About Dr Daniel Kowalsky
Dr Daniel Kowalsky, lecturer in European Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast, is a specialist in the interwar period, and the author of numerous books and articles on the civil war in Spain, including La Unión Soviética y la guerra civil española (Barcelona, Editorial Crítica, 2003), Stalin and the Spanish Civil War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), and History in Dispute: The Spanish Civil War (Detroit: St. James Press, 2005). His work has appeared in Film History, Archivos de la Filmoteca, the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, the Journal of Slavic Military Studies, among others. In 2021, his two-part article on Soviet-Spanish diplomacy during the Spanish Civil War appeared in the Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University.