Nunnery Gallery presents Magic Mirror - a major exhibition of work by French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun and filmmaker Sarah Pucill. Curated by Karen Le Roy Harris the exhibition runs from 17 April - 14 June 2015, to coincide with Jersey Heritage’s landmark retrospective of Cahun and Marcel Moore. Many of the works on view will be shown in London for the first time.
Forming part of an artistic dialogue with contemporary artist Pucill, the exhibition is the part of the Nunnery Gallery’s 2015 In Dialogue season, a year-long exploration of partnerships, artistic inspirations and deeply involved relationships between the artist and the muse.
Called ‘one of the most curious spirits of our time’ by André Breton, the exhibition will offer a unique perspective and insight into the work of Cahun, who used subversive avant-garde art practice as a form of resistance in Nazi occupied Jersey during WW2.
Cahun (born Lucy Schwob) continually challenged social conformities. Known for her writings she published articles in journals and in 1929 translated Havelock Ellis’ theories on the third gender, which forms part of the gender neutral position Cahun took. ‘Masculine? Feminine? But it depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me’ (Claude Cahun). Cahun positioned herself as a surrealist but was not part of the official surrealist group, as many women were not. She was part of the Théâtre Esoterique and this element of staging and masquerade are carried through to her work. Cahun paved the way and was precursor to the next wave of female artists and photographers such as Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman, whose work also references gender identity, surrealism, fashion photography and tableaux vivants.
Sarah Pucill’s film Magic Mirror combines a re-staging of Cahun’s black and white photographs with selected extracts from her book Aveux Non Avenus (Confessions Denied). Exploring the longstanding relationship between photography and film Pucill moves Cahun’s work from still to moving image and repositions Cahun within a post-modern context with gender, self and identity at the centre of discourse.
A large number of Cahun’s works created throughout her non-conformist life will be on show. The exhibition will include important political works such as a self-portrait depicting a defiant Cahun dressed as an elderly lady with a Nazi badge between her teeth - a disguise the artist used throughout her resistance.