This March, I headed to Keele University for the Hayward Touring Exhibition, Claude Cahun, Beneath This Mask. Having previously engaged with Cahun's work during my undergraduate studies through books and a survey show at Jeu de Paume back in 2011, it was a welcome experience to reacquaint myself with her practice. Amongst a multitude of her iconic, elusive self-portraits - the likes of which are today recognised as a forerunner to queer theory and feminist art - I found myself reflecting on a series of connections with the natural world that I had not encountered before.
Achieving posthumous fame, Cahun is well-recognised for her malleable depiction of multiple identities and personae. This touring exhibition - comprised of 42 giclee prints - is a reminder of how relevant her imagery remains in the present moment. She subverts modes of traditional portraiture and reconstructs our perception of gender and identity - its still remarkable to think that Cahun was reflecting upon many of today's LGBTQI+ dialogues back in the early-mid 20th century.
In researching performance art platforms, I came across the Performance Magazine archive via the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) website. It's a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the history of performance in the UK from 1979 to 1992 - and it's easily accessible. LADA teamed up with Rob La Frenais (founding editor 1979-1987) to digitise and upload a free, online archive of all 66 issues. I've picked my two favourite covers - Laurie Anderson and John Cage/ Merce Cunningham.
The archive was launched in 2017 with two events - one as part of Hull's Re-ROOTed Festival on 25 March, and a second at the British Library on 27 April. A film by Hugo Glendinning and Alex Eisenberg maps the magazine’s history and legacy, while commissioned essays respond to the archive and the period when the magazine was published.
"With its maverick and punk ethos Performance Magazine embodied an immensely active community of artists, writers and publics that crossed disciplines throughout the late 70s, 80s and the start of the 90s. The magazine provided a vital platform for the awareness of new approaches to the making and experience of art by creating a critical context and space for discourse. Moving beyond Performance Art and conventional categorisations, Performance Magazine was instrumental in promoting cross-disciplinary and underground art and played an important role in triggering the development of Live Art as a terminology and field of creative practice."
It wouldn't be winter without a blast of cold air, but this Beast from the East is a severe warning of the drastic changes developing in our planet's meteorological system. With reports of the Arctic being warmer than areas of the UK, this latest storm brings the actualities of climate change to our door-step. Wrap up warm and plan for the month ahead: here's a series of projects on view in March which reflect upon humanity's changing rapport with the environment.