28 Apr Touring exhibition coming to Oswestry!
Qube is delighted to be welcoming a new touring exhibition to the gallery next week.
Claude Cahun: Beneath This Mask is a Hayward Touring exhibition from Southbank Centre, London.
“Beneath this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces”
Claude Cahun, Disavowals, 1930
Claude Cahun (1894 – 1954) was a French photographer and writer famous for her ambiguous photographic portraits. Born Lucy Schwob, the artist assumed the pseudonym Claude Cahun – a gender-neutral French forename coupled with her grandmother’s surname – in 1917. With this new identity Cahun was able to distance herself from her well-known literary family and reject what she saw as the narrow confines of gender.
Born into a family of intellects and writers, Cahun was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, where she became involved in the emergence of the surrealist movement. Andre Breton, a founding member of the movement, called Cahun ‘one of the most curious spirits of our time’. Although she contributed texts to their early published works, Cahun operated on the margins of the surrealist movement and never became a member. To do so – in Cahun’s eyes – would have meant surrendering her own identity, the exploration of which formed the basis of her work.
In 1938 Cahun escaped the impending Nazi occupation of France and fled to Jersey with her lover and collaborator Marcel Moore. It was in Jersey that Cahun began the photographic work that she is best know for: a series of theatrical tableaus which see the artist blur and distort her age, identity, gender and surroundings in order to assume different personas. These photographs can be read as a kind of anti-portraiture: while portraiture sets out to capture and commemorate an individual, Cahun’s photographs disrupt the notion of a single coherent ‘self’.
Largely unknown during her own lifetime, Cahun’s photographs – many of which have only recently received critical attention – anticipate the work of contemporary artists, such as Cindy Sherman and Trish Morrissey, for whom the subversion of traditional portraiture and the constructed nature of identity and gender remain a pressing concern.
Want to find out more about the artist? We have an evening talk with historian Sarah Gathercole on Thursday 5th May, 7pm. Click here for details and bookings…