Essay: Selika, Mystery of the Belle Epoque for the Paris Review Daily / by Susanna Forrest

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Selika Lazevski exists in six black-and-white photographs and nowhere else. I first saw her when those six studio portraits appeared on Tumblr in 2012. They quickly spread around the Internet as readers asked, Who is she? But although I’ve searched for years, every pin I place to try to map the real woman snaps and slides out of place, multiplying new leads that take me nowhere. I wrote a blog post about her name, guessed the wrong photographer, and saw my error replicate around the Internet, too, even turning up in the publicity materials for a short film about Selika. This much I do know: she was a black amazone in Belle Epoque Paris, a city where black “Amazons” were shown in a human zoo; she was a celebrity who left no other trace than these six tokens of her celebrity; she was a horsewoman without a horse, a power hinted at but not granted.

For Paris Review Daily. (9th February 2018)