Monday, 8 November 2010
A Woman's Glove
" I also remember the apparently joccular proposition once made in my presence to a lady, asking that she present to the Centrale Surrealiste one of the remarkable sky-blue gloves she was carrying on a visit to us at this 'Centrale'...I dont know what there can have been, at that moment, so terribly, so marvellously decisive for me in the thought of that glove leaving that hand forever''.
- Andre Breton, Nadja, (1928)
Reading Nadja, Breton's surrealist love story, is a bit like what I imagine it might be like to sit in the front row of an Alexander McQueen show. Breton dazzles the reader with a flash-photography trail through Paris, stopping to zoom in on interesting and alluring objects, many of which are items of clothing. Like a McQueen show, the experience might be somewhat unsettling. This is because in both cases the images on show are bizarre and utterly familiar at the same time- they achieve a level of romance and beauty which is neither imaginary nor real. Most of all, Breton obsesses over Nadja's, gloves. Whether sky blue or bronze, he 'can never resist picking them up, always astonished at its weight'. I have been shopping for gloves recently and I have to agree that there is something rather rigid and freakish about the sight of an empty woman's glove in a clothes shop. There is something imposing about the intended fragility and dainty-ness of the fingered leather glove, like this one which Breton places includes in the book to illustrate his fixation: