Self Portrait, Head Between Hands by Claude Cahun

Self Portrait, Head Between Hands by Claude Cahun

Self Portrait, Head Between Hands
Identity Politics, Photography
Photographic print

A striking photograph, ‘Self-Portrait, Head Between Hands’ depicts how Cahun has transitioned from their childhood and teenage female identity to the gender-neutral persona. A shaved scalp replaces the long hair effectively stripping away the social traditions of the alluring flowing locks of femininity. Cahun portrays themselves with an air of detachment and a lack of feeling, however the hands are placed either side of their head giving a sense of intensity of their lived experience. However this image is more than a comment on shifting gender politics, Cahun was also Jewish, physically stripped of identity and sex in the mounting prejudice against Jews and women.

Claude Cahun

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

Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, better known as Claude Cahun, was a lesbian photographer, sculptor, and writer. Assuming the name in 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 traditional 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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