Anonymous, known as ZORRO (active 1940 - 1970)
Self-portrait, c.1940, matte aristotype, 12 x 9 cm, Ph 25052
"For nearly thirty years, a man has been playing the game of photographic duplication. In the privacy of his apartment, he stages himself, disguises himself and takes photographs, tirelessly repeating the operation. It doesn't matter if the photographic device is cobbled together and clumsy, it doesn't matter how others look at it. Through the artifices of staging and photographic recording, he gives form to his fantasy, invents himself as a hero and enjoys himself.
This set, composed of about a hundred photographs taken between 1940 and 1970, was found in an envelope carefully kept out of sight until now. In the absence of any information on the identity of the author, we spontaneously called him Zorro, the man with the whip, letting the images speak for themselves.
He is not the first to have practiced the self-portrait in an obsessive way. From Hippolyte Bayard to Pierre Molinier, through Claude Cahun or Cindy Sherman, many photographers have put themselves on stage, illustrating with brilliance and sometimes humor Rimbaud's famous formula, "I is another. For Zorro, the self-portrait is a real challenge rather than a game. Engaged in an imaginary enterprise, he translates his mental images into photos, without relay, in an impulsive creation that evades the norms. Unlike the thoughtful practice of an artist, his photographs show a raw obsession and it is in this art of singularity that these images draw their strength.
Luckily, these photographs have escaped the fate of so many others, destroyed as soon as they are discovered because of the intimacy they contain. For us, who have been exploring for years the immense field of anonymous photography in search of rare pearls, the attraction of these intimate visions lies not so much in their confidentiality - which we betray by publishing them - as in their mystery, this troubling strangeness proper to certain photographs which give to see without revealing anything of their secret. "(Marion and Philippe Jacquier)