Les Gueules Cases. Photography and the Making of Disfigurement
Between 1914 and 1918, French visual culture was saturated with photographs of amputees: ex-combatants who had lost an arm or a leg, and had substituted them for prosthetic devices. However, these pictures were all about body mutilations. Facial injuries were also profusely photographed, but barely penetrated into the French visual culture. This article explores the reasons behind this invisibility. Itmaintains that, during the war, bodily mutilations were associated with discourses on re-education, while facial wounds were connected to the rhetoric of reconstruction. This distinction, grounded on concerns about the function of the limbs and the appearance of the face, was the source of the sparse dissemination of photographs of facial injuries. It will be argued that these wounds became visible only when the focus shifted from the appearance to the social function of the face, and facial injuries began to be understood as ‘disfigurement’.
Citation:Pichel, B. (2017) Les Gueules Cases. Photography and the Making of Disfigurement. Journal of War & Culture Studies, 10 (1), pp. 82-99
Research Group:Photographic History Research Centre (PHRC)
- School of Humanities