Monday, 30 April 2018

Au Téléphone

The invention of the telephone enhanced opportunities for romantic communication. Suitors could mumble words of endearment directly into the ears of their intended over great distances. But as we see here, the postcard retained its value as a medium for brief expressions of undying affection and co-opted the image of the telephone as a nod to new technology. These examples are all from France and, with a few exceptions, date from the first decade of the last century. They come saturated in the visual clichés of seduction – come-hither smiles, sprays of flowers and simpering expressions. The male participants struggle to disguise their baser instincts with vapid grins and intensive grooming (in the traditional sense) while the children, representing the end point of the fledgling romance, appear implausibly winsome. For the females, animating their features into submissive expressions of interest required rather less of an effort. It may all seem ridiculously naive and repressed in the age of Tinder but this was once a powerful platform for building relationships. It’s not uncommon to find 5 or 6 amorous postcards dispatched to the same recipient in just a few days – today that would be called stalking behaviour.