Claude Cahun – Beneath This Mask
@ Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, HexhamBook Now
19 January 2019 - 09 March 2019
This Hayward Touring exhibition features the work of French female photographer Claude Cahun (1894–1954), whose practice investigates gender and identity.
Cahun achieved posthumous fame for her elusive self-portraits in which she assumed multiple personae. The exhibition contains 42 contemporary giclee prints made from scans of Cahun’s original photographic self-portraits, as the majority of the negatives have been lost.
Born Lucy Schwob, she adopted the pseudonym in 1917 to free herself from the narrow confines of gender. At the beginning of her career she was aligned to the Surrealist movement and was friends with André Breton; however she distanced herself both politically and physically after fleeing France on the eve of Nazi occupation.
Cahun settled in Jersey where she embarked upon her defining photographic series, in which the subversion of traditional portraiture and the constructed nature of identity and gender are pressing concerns. In these now famous images, Cahun anticipated the performative work of contemporary artists such as Cindy Sherman.
This Hayward Touring exhibition is in collaboration with Jersey Heritage and was first presented at the Women of the World Festival 2015, Southbank Centre.
Main image credit:
Je Tends Les Bras, 1931
Courtesy and copyright Jersey Heritage