Speaking of Photography - Sabine T. Kriebel
Florence Henri’s Oblique Subjects
Florence Henri, Portrait Composition, 1927
Neither perpendicular nor parallel to a given surface, the word “oblique” simply refers to a slanting angle. Rhetorically, however, the term is loaded, suggesting something askance, mystical, masked, indirect, covert, or furtive. An oblique angle foregrounds subjectivity and irrationality rather than detached objectivity and rational, head-on perception; rather than being direct, analogous or cognate, the oblique suggests circuitous, decentered pathways of knowing. Reading Florence Henri’s iconic 1928 self-portrait against the grain, this paper considers the ways in which her suite of refractive images reroute our understandings of identity and connection in the context of the detachment associated with New Vision photography.
Sabine T. Kriebel has published widely on photography, photomontage, and resistant aesthetics, including in her book Revolutionary Beauty: The Radical Photomontages of John Heartfield (University of California Press, 2014) and Photography and Doubt (Routledge, 2016) co-authored with Andrés Zervigón. Prior to joining the faculty in History of Art, University College Cork, Ireland, she worked at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC in the Department of Photographs and collaborated on the 2005 Dada exhibition.
Speaking of Photography is an ongoing, annual series of public lectures on the history, theory, and practice of photography, organized by the Department of Art History. Since 2007-08 we have welcomed photographic scholars from across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
The series, now in its eighth year, is made possible by the generosity of an anonymous donor, with additional support from the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Ciel Variable magazine and Château Versailles Hotel.