Exist Otherwise The Life and Works of Claude Cahun
Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 7:00 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Jennifer L. Shaw in conversation with Kit Schluter
discussing the subject of the new book published by Reaktion Books
Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun
by Jennifer L. Shaw
In the turmoil of the 1920s and '30s, Claude Cahun challenged gender stereotypes with her powerful photographs, montages, and writings, works that appear to our twenty-first-century eyes as utterly contemporary, or even from the future. She wrote poetry and prose for major French literary magazines, worked in avant-garde theater, and was both comrade of and critical outsider to the Surrealists. Exist Otherwise is the first work in English to the tell the full story of Claude Cahun's art and life, one that celebrates and makes accessible Cahun's remarkable vision.
Jennifer L. Shaw is professor of art history at Sonoma State University in California. She is the author of Reading Claude Cahun’s Disavowals and Dream States: Puvis de Chavannes, Modernism, and the Fantasy of France.
Kit Schluter is a writer and translator living in Mexico City. With Andrew Dieck and Francesca Capone, he edits O’clock Press. His writings have appeared in BOMB, Boston Review, Elective Affinities, Inpatient Press, and The Disinhibitor. He has translated the works of Enzio de Kiipt, Clamenç Llansana, Jaime Saenz, and Marcel Schwob. His latest translation is the forthcoming release from Wakefield Press of the novel by Marcel Schwob titled: The King In The Golden Mask.
Crtitcal acclaim for Exist Otherwise:
"Shaw has crafted mounds of archival information—including memoirs, letters, press clippings, rare books, and photographs—into a story of Claude Cahun’s life and works. Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun, a highly readable page-turner, nevertheless engages fully with the complexities that make Cahun one of the twentieth century’s most intriguing artist–activists and an inspiration to today’s culture makers." Tirza T. Latimer, California College of the Arts
"Claude Cahun’s writings and artworks tell the story of her own critical self-discovery, and Shaw follows suit, placing the works at the center of her gripping biography of Cahun as a woman artist and lesbian who managed to 'exist otherwise’ long before transgender and gay rights. In the graceful flow of Shaw’s prose, Cahun’s photographic projects illuminate and amplify her life, from the French provinces to Surrealist Paris to the occupied island of Jersey, where her guerilla anti-Nazi art led to harrowing arrest and near execution. Shaw calls Cahun her hero, and convinces us that Cahun should be ours as well, in our moment of Brexit and Trump." Christina Kiaer, Northwestern University
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