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Through Skin, Flesh & Now The Heart : The Photographic Transgressions of Raoul Ubac

Winsor, Lauren (2020) Through Skin, Flesh & Now The Heart : The Photographic Transgressions of Raoul Ubac. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Between 1930 and 1942, Raoul Ubac produced a body of innovative photographic work which, to date, has not only been inadequately discussed, but also misunderstood. This thesis aims to address this misinterpretation, and to resituate Ubac within the canons of both Surrealism and the history of photography. In the worldwide depression between two world wars, Ubac turned to photography as a means to express his disillusionment with the establishment. His vivid imagery of contorted, fragmented bodies is often marginalised and discussed fleetingly in relation to the patriarchal traditions of Surrealism. The thesis claims that far from misogynistic, Ubac’s radical, violent methods of production, performed upon the female body, are a form of political activism. Rather than the submissive female, Ubac presents the viewer with strong, Amazonian warriors. The image of bodily transgression is posited as representative of social and political transgression. An accurate material analysis enables an in-depth discussion of Ubac’s methodology. The relationship between his production methods, the work itself and the resultant impact on the viewer are explored through a critical framework that takes in both phenomenological and psychoanalytic theories. Thus, Ubac’s inventive approach to the photographic and his political leanings are foregrounded. Furthermore, his involvement in a number of politically-driven avant-garde movements, as well as occupied Belgium’s clandestine press support Ubac’s political aspirations. This is the first extended study of Ubac’s photographic works, and also the first to consider them in the context of the turbulent, totalitarian political climate in which they were created. A necessary re-evaluation of his photographic oeuvre, this thesis aims to resituate Ubac as a key practitioner within the canon of photography.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Photography Photomontage Surrealism Surrealist Photographs Ubac Raoul Materiality Phenomenology Penthesilea Politics Activism Political Anti-Nazi Nazi Germany World War Two
Subjects: T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Lauren Winsor
Date Deposited: 23 May 2022 15:39
Last Modified: 23 May 2022 15:39
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32856

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