Nunnery Gallery presents Magic Mirror - a major exhibition of work by French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun and contemporary British artist filmmaker Sarah Pucill. Curated by Karen Le Roy Harris the exhibition runs from 17 April - 14 June 2015 and is 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. Photographs by both artists will be shown in London, many for the first time.
Sharing an engagement with Surrealism, the layering of Pucill and Cahun’s work embraces the uncanny in relation to the inanimate. Their work explores the idea of a multiple ‘self’ and of looking, as both artists assert a queer gaze between mirror, camera and across two centuries.
Pucill’s film Magic Mirror combines a re-staging of Cahun’s photographs and visualisation of written text from her book Aveux non avenus (Disavowals), transforming Cahun’s work from still to moving image, whilst exploring the relationship between word, photography and sound in film.
Called ‘one of the most curious spirits of our time’ by André Breton, the exhibition will offer a unique perspective on 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). She was part of the Théâtre Esoterique and this element of staging and masquerade are carried through to her work. Cahun’s history and many ‘selves’ will be explored throughout the show. Her performative play with gender, identity, surrealism, fashion photography and tableux vivants were a precursor to the next wave of female artists and photographers such as Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman. Pucill develops Cahun's themes, taking inspiration by weaving in her relationship with a dead artist, and by bringing her words and images to life in film.
Pucill’s dialogue with Cahun repositions her within a post-modern context with gender, self and identity at the centre of discourse. Through text, photography and film, the exhibition mixes and questions authorship, medium and identity. The exhibition title Magic Mirror and title of Pucill’s film has come from Cahun’s words; ‘A portrait of one or the other. Our two narcissisms drowning in it. It was the impossible realised in a magic mirror.’
Sarah Pucill’s films, which span over two decades, have been screened at major international film festivals with her ambitious feature length 16mm b/w film Magic Mirror being premiered at the Tate Modern. Her films and photographs explore a sense of self which is transformative and fluid. At the core of her practice is a concern with mortality and the materiality of the filmmaking process. The exhibition will feature both her feature film and unseen photographic work.
This exhibition is supported by: