‘Behind the Mask, Another Mask’
Artists: Gillian Wearing & Claude Cahun
Write 1000 words speech
The topic is analyzing the exhibition ‘Behind the mask, another mask’
It can be focused on the question “how did the curator set the exhibition by choosing the two artists who were born seventy years apart? ” to enter the presentation. For the main entering question, the structure of analyze could be contains:
1. the background of the exhibition (time, location);
2. Introduction and the relationship between the two artists;
3. Production: (their productions are displayed separately), similarity, difference and links between their productions.(number of items, types of items, the year of the items, technical modern items, relationships of items);
4. Display: space, rooms, types of display, wall’s color, decoration, influence to visitors’ moods and feelings;
5. Discourse: Arguments about the ideas of exhibition.
what does the exhibition want to tell us……
the influence (educated, inspired) to the visitors
source (from book <Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun>, maybe which cannot be quoted directly):
Time and location: Art National Portrait Gallery , London; Until Monday May 29 2017
Idea of the exhibition: Humans are so messy. We’re a seething, seven billion-strong mass of neuroses. Most of us just try to get along with living, but some people actively confront that mess.
Claude Cahun and Gillian Wearing are two of them. Born seventy years apart, the French surrealist and the British Turner Prize-winner are united by an obsession with the knotty, tangled turmoil of identity. This small but neat show puts their work side by side, creating a world of masks, masquerades, fakery and empowerment through art.
Claude Cahun (1894-1954) was a surrealist who took on a gender-neutral name and created a body of work that in turn cast her as an effeminate strongman, then a young boy, then transforming into a masculine figure in a corduroy coat before metamorphosing into a shaven-headed character beyond gender. Cahun’s bulbous head, sharp nose and vertiginously angular features turned her into some proto-cyborg androgyne – the first genderless post-human, a future-being living beyond the constraints of society, all captured in ghostly sepia. Later work finds her covered in masks, as a severed head in a bell jar, or naked in the sea, constantly flipping between masculine, feminine and everything in between.
Wearing’s art echoes Cahun’s, but is filled with a longing and sadness all its own. Masks play a big role here too; Wearing takes portraits of herself as her mother and father, as artists she admires, as herself at three years old, and as herself right now, all in eerie prosthetic masks. It feels like she’s trying desperately to understand herself by becoming these characters: to make sense of who she is in relation to her family, idols and, most importantly, to herself.
There are so many links between the artists: gender, performance, ageing, fear of death. But Cahun is bold, Wearing is tentative.
Wearing has not only learnt a great deal about Cahun and her work but she has also made a spiritual connection with the artist, which has resulted in the production of new ‘collaborative’ works for the exhibition.
This exhibition brings together for the first time the self-portraits of French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun and British contemporary artist Gillian Wearing. Although they came from different background, remarkable parallels can be drawn between the two artists. Both of them share a fascination with the self-portrait and use the self-image, though the medium of photography, to explore themes around identity and gender, which are often played out through masquerade and performance.
At a time when issues relating to gender and identity are particularly pertinent, this exhibiton of Cahun’s and Wearing’s extraordinary images is especially relevant.
Claude Cahun wrote of her inimitable work:’Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces’- an observation we have adapted to give this exhibition its evocative title. Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun are pioneering artists, whose work, although separated by several decades, addresses similarly compelling themes of gender, identity and masquerade, articulated through photography and performance.
Photographs taken by Cahun in private, often in collaboration with her partner and stepsister, are compared and contrasted with those of Wearing, some made in direct response to Cahun’s, to create a resonant and thought-provoking intergenerational dialogue between the two artists.
Howgate, S., 2017. Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask. Princeton University Press.