Coup d'oeil (The life and work of Claude Cahun)

Authors
Citation
S. Harris, Coup d'oeil (The life and work of Claude Cahun), OX ART J, 24(1), 2001, pp. 89-112
Citations number
70
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Arts & Architecture
Journal title
OXFORD ART JOURNAL
ISSN journal
0142-6540 → ACNP
Volume
24
Issue
1
Year of publication
2001
Pages
89 - 112
Database
ISI
SICI code
0142-6540(2001)24:1<89:CD(LAW>2.0.ZU;2-6
Abstract
Coup d'oeil is centered on a close reading of an untitled object produced b y Claude Cahun for the 1936 Exposition surrealiste d'objets. Locating Cahun 's art and thought in relation to avant-garde aesthetics, and investigating them through the related psychoanalytic concepts of sexual difference, fet ishism, and the Oedipus and castration complexes (which, the author argues, are deployed critically in her work), the article attempts to arrive at an understanding of Cahun's efforts to imagine or invent a place for a woman as artist and subject of desire, while refusing any stable of identity. It is argued that Cahun's own conception of desire remains Oedipal in nature, in keeping with an artistic strategy that operates explicitly within the li terary, legal, and psychial codes of her day in order to put them in questi on. The revolt against the sexual and social norms of society that Cahun st ages in all her work is tied to an understanding, shared with the Surrealis t, of the importance of poetic mode of thought her object is consciously pa rt of an object-making strategy that envisages the supersession of art, and its replacement by 'poetry made by all' (the refrain of most of the twenti eth-century avant-garde). By making herself the fit subject of her investig ations, Cahun advances such an understanding, while foregrounding the histo rical difficulties women have had in being recognized as artistic and sexua l subjects rather than objects. Her work, which is tied to the avant-garde project, ceases when that project is no longer viable in the political circ umstances of the late 1930s.