Home as survival: Seeing Queer archival lives

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Date
2024-02-07
Authors
Cazenave, Jennifer
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Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
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Abstract
As a teenager in the eighties, French filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz scoured flea markets for amateur photographs. In 2013, he assembled a book titled The Invisibles comprised of snapshots depicting queer lives. He included a pair of Kodachrome images, which replicate a near-identical domestic scene in the 1960s: two aging women in their bourgeois home sit at a table, embracing as they look at the camera. Taking as a point of departure these personal photographs, this article focuses on two documentaries that queer postwar domesticity: Lifshitz’s The Invisibles (2011) and Magnus Gertten’s Nelly and Nadine (2022). In his film, Lifshitz not only includes postwar snapshots and home movies, but also reinvents the amateur dispositif. He interviews queer aging men and women inside their homes, challenging social exclusion and stigma based on gender nonconformity and aging. In Nelly and Nadine, a sexagenarian named Sylvie retrieves home movies from her attic that uncover a lesbian love story between her grandmother Nelly and a fellow survivor of Ravensbrück named Nadine. Decades later, the centrality of the domestic space and the amateur archive in these two documentaries offers a lesson in seeing the home as survival and unlearning the master narratives of the postwar era.
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Keywords
LGBTQ+ , Aging , Documentary , Home movies , Snapshot photography
Citation
Cazenave, J., 'Home as survival: Seeing Queer archival lives', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 26, pp. 74-89. doi: https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.26.05
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