Je Tends les Bras, 1931, by Claude Cahun/Marcel Moore via Jersey Heritage Trust
Portrait, 1920, Cahun/Moore and an excerpt of Aveux non avenus, 1930 via Don’t Kiss Me
“There is too much of everything. I keep silent. I hold my breath. I curl up in a ball, I give up my boundaries, I fold myself towards an imaginary centre. I have my head shaved, my teeth pulled and my breasts cut off -- everything that bothers my gaze or slows it down -- my stomach, my ovaries, the conscious and encysted brain. When I have but one card left in my hand, only the beating of my heart to note to perfection, surely I will have won… No. Even then, even reduced to nothing, I will understand nothing. No better off.”
- Claude Cahun, Aveux non avenus
In this image (left), arms extend from inside a weathered stone or concrete pillar. The fingers are fully splayed, with sharp angles in the elbows. The arms fill the image with energy that is juxtaposed by the solid weight of the column, and the stone is given a sense of life at the same time the figure is fused into an object. We do not know who is truly in this image, but based on current knowledge of their practice, it is most likely Cahun’s arms, with Moore collaborating in the process and actually taking the image. What are Cahun’s arms reaching for? How can their physical entrapment be escaped? The image and excerpt on the right, reading “God times God divided by GOD equals me equals God,” lead us to think perhaps this is merely a quest for the absurd.