Milanka Todić
PhD (Art History), Faculty of Applied Arts, Belgrade


Journal 4/5/2008/2009 (Museum of Applied Art), pages 145-163

070.48:391(497.11))1920/1940” ; 305-055.2

Abstract (original language):
U konstrukciji novih identiteta, posle Prvog svetskog rata i u Benjaminovoj eri tehničke reprodukcije slika, žena je konsultovala ženske magazine, modne žurnale i film, a ne samo tradiciju, porodično predanje i udžbenike lepog ponašanja. Velike fotografije izuzetnih i značajnih žena na naslovnim stranama časopisa Žena i Svet i Žena danas, kao i heroine sa filmskog platna, nudile su joj gotove, medijski artikulisane, modele koje je ona trebalo što tačnije da imitira. Umesto tradicionalnih stereotipa – majka, domaćica i supruga – masovna kultura je postavila svoje klišee – moderna žena, nova žena, neudata žena, glamur devojka, itd.

Key words: (original language)
fotografija, ženske studije, feminizam, ženski časopis, Srbija

The three magazines published in Belgrade between the two World Wars: Женски покрет, Женски свет and Жена данас, had maintained constant dialogues with all social walks of life simultaneously shaping and offering different models of woman's identity. High circulations of printed media helped establishing rules of consumerism and understanding of visual messages basically linked to the structures of social powers. They also offered basis for imitations as well as for identifications. Belgrade press favoured photographs used as illustrations in a similar attitude existing in other European countries. In modern mass and media culture the press and photography locked in a symbiotic grip gained momentum in the 1920s and 1930s by addressing the numerous and heterogeneous pubic in Serbia as well as in the newly established and much more populous state – Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was later to become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Front page photographs in the mentioned but also in all other magazines and journals are liable to different interpretations; however, the main issue this analysis raises is: in which way the new image/model of a woman was devised and how this image was conveyed to the public having in mind the effects on and consequences to the privacy and subjectivity domains. To put it more precisely, which were the mechanisms an individual would apply in shaping and consuming one's own visual representations in mass media? Or, which photographs were selected by women editors of women's magazines in order to offer them to other women as visual and construed ideals and models of behaviour?

The analysis focused on three magazines - Женски покрет, Женски свет and Жена данас, proved existence of two basic and stylised models developed in the period between the two World Wars: a modern and a new woman. Naturally, each of the two models had its variants: glamour girl, single woman, luxury fan etc. Visual elaboration of the two leading models revealed certain tactical and different instruments to have been used in the creative process of representation. If front pages of the Женски свет are recognizable for their coherent poster solutions thus providing the largest possible space for a photograph on a printed sheet, then the Жена данас would be remembered for its extraordinary and socially engaged photo mounting which can be compared with the front pages of the German Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (ABZ) and designs of John Heartfield, at least when the most successful solutions are concerned.

Idealised media images in all the three analysed magazines were equally responsible for the shaping of specific woman's culture. There was no passive standpoint either in production and consuming of mass media images or in the process of building one's own integrity concept. In the process of interpretation of multi-media messages by image/text as offered by woman's magazines both now and then runs a constant inter-subjective communication which implies the process of negotiation between the socially and culturally desirable positions on one side and the private and personal attitudes of the subject on the other.

Defined models of new woman, modern woman, luxury fan, self-confident woman, single woman, glamorous girl, as identified on the basis of the analysis of the front pages, had the function of visual stereotypes which were subject to fast changes in the twenty years of the between the two World Wars period. One should remember that these three magazines including many others not mentioned here, were addressing the public which already had learned about specific woman's culture and feminism. It was only under these conditions that it was possible to accomplish intersubjective communication which used different visual and textual forms along with photographs: drawings, surveys and letters by readers, personal advertisements and interviews.

You can download PDF of the article (578 KB)