The Soldier with No Name

Magic Mirror

The rediscovery of French photographer and writer Claude Cahun‘s work has been ongoing since the mid-1990s. Actually, it’s more accurate to speak of discovery, as her now acclaimed self-portraits were never displayed or published in her lifetime.

This progression from obscure footnote of Surrealism to justly celebrated artistic force arguably peaked in 2011, with the major show dedicated to her work at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. But it is far from over, as a film and book released this year testify.

Earlier this year, filmmaker and photographer Sarah Pucill released a 75-minute homage to Cahun entitled Magic Mirror:

Part essay, part film poem, Magic Mirror translates the startling force of Claude Cahun’s oeuvre into a choreographed series of tableaux vivants. Re-staging the French Surrealist’s black and white photographs with selected extracts from her book Aveux Non Avenus (Confessions Untold), the film explores the links between Cahun’s photographs and writings.

Here’s the trailer (click here if you don’t see it embedded):

More recently, Gavin James Bower’s book Claude Cahun: The Soldier with No Name joins a small handful of English-language texts dealing with this singular, prophetic artist:

Claude Cahun is the most important artist you’ve never heard of – until now. Writer, photographer, lesbian; revolutionary activist, surrealist, resistance fighter – Cahun witnessed the birth of the Paris avant-garde, lived through two World Wars and, as ‘Der Soldat ohne Namen’, risked death by inciting mutiny on Nazi-occupied Jersey. And yet, she’s until recently been merely a peripheral figure in these world-shaping events, relegated by academics to the footnotes in the history of art, sexual politics and revolutionary movements of the last century.

Read more on the book here, and the writer’s previous thoughts on Cahun published last year in The Guardian.




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