A Queer Tour of the Permanent Collection: Claude Cahun

March 31, 2012  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Projects/Series

Claude Cahun (Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob), Untitled (Self-Portrait), ca. 1929; photograph; gelatin silver print, 4 1/2 in. x 3 1/4 in. (11.43 cm x 8.26 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Robert Shapazian; © Estate of Claude Cahun

 

Last fall I taught a course called “Queer Modernism” at California College of the Arts. As a class project, my students traced a queer itinerary through the permanent collection at SFMOMA, culminating in a queer audio tour of the museum’s holdings. Each student first wrote an introduction to queer art at SFMOMA, explaining the interest of our queer intervention: How does looking at art through a queer lens show familiar works in a new light and, more generally, change our understanding of modernism and its canons?

We used the term “queer” loosely. It could apply to any work that lends itself to queer interpretation, contributes to a critique of sexual/social/artistic norms, celebrates homoeroticism, refuses a fixed identity, participates in the establishment of a dissident cultural lineage, and/or subverts gendered power structures.

Based on focused research, each student ultimately produced an audio stop illuminating one work of art from a queer angle. Carlsbad Oster focused on Claude Cahun:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because Claude Cahun is a pivotal figure in my own research, I couldn’t resist recording an audiostop myself:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posts in the “Queer Tour of the Permanent Collection” series address other works in SFMOMA’s holdings, such as Agnes Martin’s Falling Blue (1963), Jess’s The Mouse’s Tail (1951/1954), and Robert Gober’s Untitled (1990), and Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather (1993-1994).

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Sharon Davenport Says:

    Thank you again for your unique and nonconformist insights. I, for one, appreciate the way you see/look at these cultural productions.

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