Tuesday, December 22, 2009


"In the 1890s, Gloeden visited Tunis, and took pictures of local sights; he later seems to have used some North African models in studio photographs, through he preferred Italian scenes and ragazzi. Gloeden was interested enough in North Africa, however, once to photograph himself attired as an Arab. Most of his Tunisian scenes were landcapes (...). Other photographs, not unlike the work of Lehnert and Landrock, show the robed figures common in European images of the Maghreb. (...) Such views avoid eroticism and differ little from other images guaranteed to intrigue Europeans with foreign costumes and models.

A few images are more sexualised. In 'Achmed' (or 'Asrah'), a model with long eyelashes and pretty face poses with his robe open on a smoothly burnished chest, a romantic photograh of Oriental male beauty. (...) Such photographs would have caused no offence even to sensitive viewers, and no more risqué Arabic pictures taken by Gloeden survive. Perhaps his stay in Tunisia was too short, or he lacked the privacy of a studio to take daring photographs. North Africans might have been less willing than Sicilians to pose nude or assume sexually suggestive positions. Gloeden may simply not have been sufficiently taken with North Africans to attempt such mises-en-scène. His North African pictures remain more aesthetic than erotic, through a homosexual viewer could hardly be immune to the beauty of several youths, or the possibility, lightly implied, of sexual adventures in Tunisia."

Robert F. Aldrich, Colonialism and Homosexuality, Routledge, 2003, pp. 173-174.

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