Claude Cahun: Who was the writer and photographer to whom Google pays homage today?

This Monday, October 25, Google pays tribute to the French artist Claude Cahun. But who was this woman whose face scrolls in black and white, sometimes represented with a shaved head or short hair, two hearts on her cheeks. Drawings that offer reproductions of her work as a committed and openly gender-neutral photographer.

Born in October 25, 1894 in Nantes, under the name of Lucy Schowb, Claude Cahun is a writer, photographer and resistance fighter particularly known for her self-portraits which question the norms of gender and sexuality at the beginning of the 20th century.

Born into a middle-class Jewish family, her childhood was marked by the anti-Semitism with which the young girl was confronted while she studied at the lycée pour fille in Nantes. It is in this establishment that she will meet her future companion Suzanne Malherbe, visual artist, also known under the name of Claude Moore.

With the latter and after several years of a hidden relationship, the two women left Nantes for Paris in 1919. Together, they bond with the surrealist movement and in particular rub shoulders with André Breton. They also join the Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists.

Militant and resistant

Little follower of labels, Claude Cahun, a deliberately masculine and feminine epicene first name that she herself chose, thus questions the notion of identity in her main works. In her autobiography “Aveux non avenus” released in 1930, she declares herself before the non-binary hour. Her self-portraits thus feature her with her head shaved and dressed as a man. Photographs widely relayed today on Twitter.

Militant, she also participates with her partner in the writing of the magazines “Inversions”, created in 1924, and “Friendship” the following year where they fight for the rights of homosexuals.

Faced with great history, it also opposes Nazi Germany. While in 1940, the Anglo-Norman island of Jersey was occupied by the German army, Claude Cahun and his companion, who took up residence there a few years earlier, then joined the resistance. They were both arrested in July 1944, before being released in 1945. Claude Cahun died nearly ten years later in 1954.

Now an icon of the LGBT community, she is buried in Jersey alongside Suzanne Malherbe, who died in 1972.

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