Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781780237282 Published June 2017 For sale in North and South America only

Exist Otherwise

The Life and Works of Claude Cahun

Jennifer L. Shaw

Exist Otherwise

Jennifer L. Shaw

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 100 color plates, 80 Halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781780237282 Published June 2017 For sale in North and South America only
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 embeds Cahun within the exciting social and artistic milieu of Paris between the wars. She examines her relationship with Marcel Moore—Cahun’s stepsister, lover, and life partner—who was a central collaborator helping make some of the most compelling photographs and photomontages of Cahun’s oeuvre, dreamscapes of disassembled portraiture and scenes that simultaneously fascinate and terrify. Shaw follows Cahun into the horrors of World War II and the Nazi occupation of the island of Jersey off the coast of Normandy, and she explores the powerful and dangerous ways Cahun resisted it. Reading through her letters and diaries, Shaw brings Cahun’s ideas and feelings to the foreground, offering an intimate look at how she thought about photography, surrealism, the histories of women artists, and queer culture.
           
Offering some of Cahun’s writings never before translated into English alongside a wide array of her artworks and those of her contemporaries, this book is a must-have for any fan of this iconic artist or anyone interested in this crucial period in artistic and cultural history.
 
Review Quotes
The Cut
“As a Jewish, gender-nonconforming artist living amid the rise of fascism and widespread anti-Semitism, Cahun’s artwork challenged social norms of the time. The new book Exist Otherwise . . . features her photographs, sculptures, and illustrations along with diary entries and writing clips that have never before been translated in English.”
Tirza T. Latimer, California College of the Arts
“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.”
Christina Kiaer, Northwestern University
“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.”
 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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