Yeehaw, Beauvoir and Sartre Shooting Guns Together

sartre and beauvoir shooting guns

This photo of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre was taken in 1929 – the year the two philosophers first met – at the  Porte d’Orléans fairground in Paris. The photo is, according to Open Culture (via the French blog Avec Beauvoir) the first photo the couple took together. Sartre and Beauvoir would maintain a romantic and open relationship for the rest of their lives.

The photo was displayed in 2012 as part of an exhibit entitled “Shoot! Existential Photography.” According to their website, Beauvoir and Sartre were participating in a then-popular fair game where participants would shoot a target to have their photo taken.

In the period following World War I, a curious attraction appeared at fairgrounds: the photographic shooting gallery. If the punter’s bullet hit the centre of the target, this triggered a camera. Instead of winning a balloon or toy, the participant would win a snapshot of him or herself in the act of shooting.

Shoot! Existential Photography traces the history of this fascinating side-show – from its popular use at fairgrounds to how it fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Man Ray and Lee Miller. The artist Erik Kessels celebrates one shooter in particular – Ria van Dijk, who took portraits of herself in this way every year from 1936 – sixty of these images feature here.

[H/T Open Culture]