Self Portrait as a Young Girl by Claude Cahun

Self Portrait as a Young Girl
1914
Modern Photography
Photographic print
Jersey Heritage, St Helier, Jersey

One of the earliest known self-portraits by Cahun, the photograph displays an intensely, penetrating stare. The artist’s head is seemingly disembodied, suggesting an imbalance between head and body as though the head is too heavy making the body redundant. The abundant flowing hair recalls Medusa, the Greek mythical woman who had a head full of snakes and the power to turn men to stone. Cahun has no intention of pleasing men, instead he challenges the viewer by acknowledging female rage. Self-Portrait as a Young Girl is quietly revolutionary introducing the complex and powerful presence of a woman silenced by patriarchal society.

Claude Cahun
Modern Photography, Dada, Surrealism, Photomontage, Collage, Proto-Feminist Artists
Born: 25 October 1894, Nantes, France
Nationality: French
Died: 8 December 1954, Jersey

Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, better known as Claude Cahun, was an lesbian photographer, sculptor, and writer. Assuming the name 1917, Cahun is best known for self-portraits, in which the artist assumed a variety of personae. Their work was political and personal, often undermining tradition concepts of stereotypical gender roles. In their autobiography, Disavowals, Cahun explained ‘Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.’

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