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UAL Research Online

Making and Remaking the Civilian Soldier: The World War 1 Photographs of Horace Nicholls

Tynan, Jane and Biernoff, Suzannah (2012) Making and Remaking the Civilian Soldier: The World War 1 Photographs of Horace Nicholls. Journal of War and Culture Studies, 5 (3). pp. 277-293. ISSN 17526272

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Type of Research: Article
Creators: Tynan, Jane and Biernoff, Suzannah

Horace Nicholls’ photographs of wartime army recruitment, and post-war facial reconstruction, seem to lie uneasily between photojournalism, propaganda and record keeping. It is argued here that the photographer’s artistic aspirations, and his love of a good story, coloured his response to the brief from Wellington House to record the war effort on the home front. This is photography as pictorial history, but it is also photography as theatre. What we see are stages in a process of bodily and psychological transformation: the preparations of the new recruit and the meticulous ‘repair’ of ‘war’s ravages’. Nicholls relies upon the serial quality of his photographs to develop a narrative of the body, first the making of the civilian soldier, then his remaking. He might be drawing on a documentary style but he also dramatizes his subjects, as pictorial effects inject a poetic sensibility into his account of the transformation of men’s bodies. During World War I, facial wounds were widely perceived as the most dehumanizing of injuries. Repair, in such cases, was not, or not only, a matter of relieving pain and restoring function; at stake was the patient’s identity. By foregrounding the psychological impact of facial mutilation, Nicholls produced images that ultimately cast doubt on the possibility of restoration.

Official Website: http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Article,id=15243/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Body; Uniform; Photography; Propaganda
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Intellect
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: September 2012
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1386/jwcs.5.3.277_1
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2013 11:05
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2013 14:53
Item ID: 5976
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5976

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