Suzanne Doppelt

Suzanne Doppelt, Professor of Photography at The European Graduate School / EGS.


Suzanne Doppelt (b. 1956) is a renowned Paris-based contemporary writer and photographer. After studying philosophy and becoming a teacher of literature and philosophy in Paris, she became interested in photography and decided to pursue a second career as a photographer. Her unique picto-literary style can be seen in her books Totem (2002), Quelque chose cloche (2004), La 4e des plaies vole (2004), and Le pré est vénéneux (2007). She has collaborated with the poet Pierre Alféri on his collection Oxo (2004), and co-publishes the cultural journal Détail together with him. In addition to producing and showing her own work, she is the house photographer for the quarterly journal Vacarme. Suzanne Doppelt has exhibited her work at many different venues, including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Centre Culturel Français, Damas; Pavillon des Arts, Paris; Institut Franais, Naples; Ecole des Beaux Arts de Nîmes; Galerie Pennings in Holland; and NYU, New York.

In her book Ring Rang Wrong (2004), Suzanne Doppelt deals with a variety of topics stemming from a multiplicity of unfixed voices. The text, which enters into dialogue with the sophists, is contrasted with starkly precise and abstract photographs along with philosophical musings. To go with the publication, Doppelt held an art exhibition at New York University in 2006, which was opened by Professors Avital Ronell and Ulrich Baer (both of NYU), and Eduardo Cadava from Princeton University. At the event, Doppelt read from her book in French and was accompanied in English by the American poet and translator Cole Swensen.

William Rauscher has said the following about the book: "What is at stake here is a discursive perversion, a gesture of transvaluation that tells us that there is something like a children’s story in every naturalist discourse, that there is something like a fairy tale in every scientific fragment….Ring Rang Wrong tells us that the poetic task is one of connecting distant fragments of the world and making them produce new sounds. Or of putting them together, as if it were a matter of one of the many photographic diptychs that traverse the book, interrupting it, making a new diptych, a new Doppelt, in each instance, in every moment, and with language itself."

Suzanne Doppelt has been called 'the Man Ray of contemporary photography' by the Parisian magazine Les Inrockuptibles. The magazine also said that her work has the 'supple movement of Moholy-Nagy.’ She has produced a body of work that disregards subjectivities that are no longer necessary. Her oeuvre ranges from alluring juxtapositions of food particles to jointures of architectural details. Her lens captures the flash of the unconscious, offering a momentary glimpse of what might otherwise be given over to immediate repression. Suzanne Doppelt's work can be deemed existentialist in the way that it closely examines the layers beneath the obvious surface phenomena of perception. Doppelt is not satisfied with merely using her camera to describe, represent, or even reveal what can be assumed to lie hidden beneath the appearance of things. In keeping its focus on details, her camera establishes an articulation of things with the aim of discovering their improbable conjunctions and inescapable complicities. Suzanne Doppelt is also interested in the phenomenon of ghosts and in what the fantastic logic of their appearances and disappearances might imply for an economy of the living.

In their essay "Hungry Eye: The Photography of Suzanne Doppelt," Avital Ronell and Ulrich Baer write: "The Hunger Artist is at once abject and proud, celebrity and loser, starving and sated, anorectic and overindulged. There is something that cannot be swallowed. Whatever Kafka was getting at or withdrawing from, the fact remains that our relation to hunger, to food and its representation, is uncanny. At once intimate and distant, human feeding time, whether one is cutting down or beefing up, is barely manageable. On the incessant binge that is called existence, we accept, incorporate, and eliminate food. Yet this intimacy remains alien, other to the body, which mutely seeks its correlate in the idiom of the image. And it is precisely this relation, which despite its materiality remains largely imaginary, that lies at the heart of Parisian photographer and writer Suzanne Doppelt's pictorial project."

Avital Ronell also wrote the postface to Doppelt’s book The Field is Lethal (2011), in which she lavishes the following praise on the photographer: "I’ll just spit it out: I find Suzanne Doppelt, as work and Dasein, as personality—a category that, according to Schelling, has been severely underrated by philosophers, if not entirely banned from discursive precincts—to be genuinely remarkable. It’s been a while since I have considered her singularity and my own inability to nail it. I have reserved for her double occupancy on my imaginary wish list, as writer and photographer. She’s up there with the best of them, and yet her discretion allows for little fanfare and only minutely disbursed portions of appreciation."

Suzanne Doppelt has published a number of books, including: Le dauphin: dossier, les mammifàres marins (1991), Kub Or (1994), Mange (1995), L'hypothàse du château (1997), 36 candele (1998), Dans la reproduction en 2 parties égales des plantes et des animaux (1999), Raptus (Week-end) (2000), Oiseaux 1000 photos (2001), Totem (2002), Quelque chose cloche (2004), Le monde est rond: autour de l'encyclopédie (2004), La 4e des plaies vole (2004), Ring Rang Wrong (2006), Le pré est vénéneux (2007), Lazy Suzie (2009), La plus grande aberration (2012), and Amusements de mécanique (2014).