The self-portraits of surrealist photographer Claude Cahun demonstrate the undeniable magic of the camera in its emergence as a medium of expression. In the modern age, we are trained to believe that there is no higher truth then the photographic image and that the camera cannot lie. However, the photographer certainly can, and Cahun plays with the viewer’s insistence on determining truth in every image by photographing herself in both masculine and feminine form. Toying with early 20th century perceptions of sexuality, Cahun is the exemplary of the surrealist obsession with the androgynous being. Her undefined sexuality suggests that she is a perfected balance of both genders, representing the masculine and feminine traits present in all beings. Shrouded in disguise, it is never quite obvious who the real Cahun is, and her work suggests that a single image cannot expose us to the complexity of a personality.
-Gabriela June Tully Claymore