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Acting Out: Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore
Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Untitled (Cahun as Buddha, Théâtre Esotérique) (detail), c,1927, print from copy negative of black and white photograph, 4.75 x 3.5 in. Jersey Heritage Trust.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.-Acting Out: Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore is the first museum exhibition to examine the photographic and performance work of Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob) in the context of her lifelong partnership and collaboration with Marcel Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe). Born to a prominent Jewish publishing family in Nantes, niece of the symbolist poet Marcel Schwob, Claude Cahun was well connected to the literary world. Marcel Moore studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Nantes. From 1920 to 1937, the couple lived in Paris where they participated in avant-garde theater and the Surrealist movement. Subsequently they moved to the Isle of Jersey, where they endured Nazi occupation during WWII.

Acting Out introduces rarely viewed photographs and documents of Cahun and Moore. Their performances were constructed in private for the camera and were to be viewed exclusively as photographs. Called performances for the camera, this art form has recently attracted intense scholarly interest and raises questions about the relationship between performance and documentation. What is the status of these photographs? Are these photographs artworks in and of themselves, or are they merely records of an art performance that happened in the past? What are the artistic subjects constructed in these photographs? Are Cahun and Moore artists or performers? What is the difference?

In early 2005, the Frye Art Museum inaugurated an ongoing exhibition entitled The R Word that examines the notion of representational art from a variety of perspectives. Acting Out, the second exhibition in this series, provides an opportunity to examine more closely this form of representational art.

Acting Out, curated by Dr. Tirza True Latimer (California College for the Arts) for the Judah L. Magnes Museum, is made possible through a generous grant from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, with additional support from the Consulate Général France à San Francisco. The exhibition introduces rarely viewed photographs and documents from the collections of the Jersey Heritage Trust

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