Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman

Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman

Language: English

Pages: 180

ISBN: 0262681064

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, and Cindy Sherman were born in differentcountries, in different generations ;Cahun in France in 1894, Deren inRussia in 1917, and Sherman in the United States in 1954. Yet theyshare a deeply theatrical obsession that shatters any notion of aunified self. All three try out identities from different socialclasses and geographic environments, extend their temporal range intothe past and future, and transform themselves into heroes andvillains, mythological creatures, and sex goddesses. The premise ofInverted Odysseys is that this expanded concept of theself ;this playful urge to "try on" other roles-is more than afeminist or psychological issue. It is central to our global culture,to our definition of human identity in a world where the individualexists in a multicultural and multitemporal environment. This book isan "odyssey" through historical, theoretical, critical, and literaryperspectives on the three artists viewed in the context of theseissues. Contributors include Lynn Gumpert, Lucy Lippard, Jonas Mekas,Ted Mooney, Shelley Rice, and Abigail Solomon-Godeau.Central to the book is Claude Cahun's "Heroines" manuscript, a seriesof fifteen stream-of-consciousness monologues written in the voices ofmajor women of literature and history, such as the Virgin Mary,Sappho, Cinderella, Penelope, Delilah, and Helen of Troy. Translatedby Norman MacAfee, these perverse and hilarious vignettes make theirEnglish-language debut here. This is also the first time that Cahun'stext has appeared in its entirety.The book accompanies an exhibit cocurated by Lynn Gumpert and ShelleyRice at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University.Published in cooperation with the Grey Art Gallery, New YorkUniversity.EXHIBITION SCHEDULE:Grey Art GalleryNew York, New YorkNovember 16, 1999 - January 29, 2000Museum of Contemporary ArtNorth Miami, FloridaMarch - May 2000

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lwa in question; their ritual transformation differentiates their mundane social identity [ 18 ] INVERTED ODYSSEYS from the identity of the sacred spirit that has temporarily inhabited their body. In becoming the ancestral deities, they—like Deren in At Land—transcend themselves, allow themselves to join forces with their history, with the supernatural archetypes of the race. In the course of a Vodou ritual, therefore, the donning of mask and costume signals the breakthrough of the “unreal”

or rejected the “fine art” media historically associated with the manipulation of women’s images over the centuries. It was these years of fusion that Sherman drew upon when she got out of art school and encountered her real education at Hallwalls, a Buffalo alternative space. She has said painting never inspired her to any original ideas, but photography did, along with exposure to performance and conceptual art. Gilbert and George and Eleanor Antin were early interests, as was fashion/Hollywood

postmodern theory. As the action or activities were documented, the final products might resemble photographic portraiture, guerrilla theater, or private journals. Cherished fantasies and untold secrets were embodied in women’s art as personal catharsis and political catalysts. Antin said that “autobiography in its fundamental sense is the self getting a grip on itself. . . . [It] can be considered a particular type of transformation in which the subject chooses a specific, as yet unarticulated

beautiful, Antinous, son of Eupitheus; but Eurymachus, son of Polybus, isn’t bad either. It is so hard to decide, from among the skeins of wool, which one I prefer, and what will be the weft of the fabric. Everything depends on the light. The threads change according to the day, gray or the color of honey . . . But to accept one man, and especially to send the others away—it’s a terrible responsibility! Ulysses didn’t win me without cunning. There were the obligations that he had to Icarus, my

. I didn’t realize that. I try. [Consults notes.] You mention the woman’s hair—that it could be the same woman with different hair color, sometimes blond, sometimes not. What are the problematics of blondness? A The problematics of blondness are a historical phenomenon of no further relevance to the living. To us. They’re over. Q I’m not sure I follow. Let me get anecdotal here for a moment. Every day I walk ten or fifteen blocks on lower Broadway, and I see hundreds of young women walking

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