jueves, 1 de diciembre de 2011

ESPECIAL 5º ANIVERSARIO. Claude Cahun: A Sensual Politics of Photography - Gen Doy

Figure 1

A striking image indeed (figure 1), even to our postmodern, twenty-first century eyes familiar with tattoos, piercings, extravagant hairstyles and any number of unusual and inventive manipulations of the embodied self: a figure with shaved head stands with her/his back to us, looking sideways to throw into profile that pointed chin, bent nose, tight mouth and elongated jawline meeting the prominent ears. The eyebrows seem to have been shaved off. Asimple black singlet (actually the top of a bathing suit) reveals neck and shoulders but little about the gender of this body, though it does expose a tiny and poignant detail, a mole near the left arm. For me, this is an instance of what Roland Barthes has named a punctum – something that touches the subjective viewer of a photographic image beyond the general appeal of the picture’s particular time and place, and pierces the skin of our consciousness, mobilising desire.1 The painted mouth and darkly made-up eyes, sloping down at the corners, further enhance this unusual portrait. This is the self-image – one of many – of Lucy Schwob (1894–1954), woman of many pseudonyms, better known as Claude Cahun: writer, photographer, actor, Surrealist, and collaborator and partner of her stepsister, Suzanne Malherbe (1892–1972, also known by her pseudonym Marcel Moore). [...]

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