For Miriam Cahn (Basel, Switzerland, 1949), drawing, painting, photography, sculpture and writing reach their fullest sense when she puts her own body in motion, making it work as a performance tool: therefore, it is not simply represented, but materially embodies the coordinates of age and physical condition, testing them through art, both on a daily basis and across the broad time of biography.
The centrality of the body is related to Cahn’s feminist awakening in the gestation of her work in the 1970s, when she displaced the customary sway held by sight and the faculty of reason. Thus, she explains how her hands are her “thinking tool” and unconventionally approaches traditional mediums, such as oil painting and charcoal drawings, ostensibly anachronistic, as processes with which to engage in an unusual relationship with time.
“I always work from the present,” explains Cahn, for whom revisiting previous works becomes a chance to keep them alive while giving different meanings to her own existence, in different configurations and intersections between time in biography, nature, history and art history.
Conceived as a “biographic way of seeing the world”, this exhibition stretches from her first notebooks and charcoal drawings from the 1970s to her latest works, in which each gesture, each movement and each thought is “equally important”. Therefore, her works survey key themes which have become the focus of her concerns throughout her artistic career: war and violence, sexuality, nature, family and death.
Large-scale drawings, bold and bright colours and unusual perspectives disrupt the perception of the viewer with regard to what they see. For Cahn art is political, and all the more so in its ability to raise awareness in the viewer through the display of her works. Thus the arrangement of these works in space gains importance and is carried out by the artist as she takes heed of intuition and allows scope for improvisation in the installation process.