Recommended by Rich Smith
When the Nazis occupied Paris, the artist Claude Cahun and her partner, Suzanne Malherbe, fled to Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. Eventually the Nazis took Jersey, too, and the two artists found themselves living across from the Gestapo HQ on the island. Did they cower? No. They engaged in what Cahun called “psychological and semiotic sabotage.” To combat propaganda, Cahun wrote up BBC reports of Nazi military failures on cigarette papers and slipped them into the briefcases of unsuspecting Nazis. Drawing on her innate understanding of the multiplicity of the self, the nonbinary artist also created posters featuring a “nameless soldier” who spoke of defecting from the führer’s army, which also created chaos. These stories—and many more I can’t list here—come to us courtesy of recent UW PhD grad Ryan Helterbrand, who devoted his entire dissertation to this little-known artist. In collaboration with Tim Smith-Stewart and Jeffrey Azevedo, that dissertation, as well as some brand-new translations of Cahun’s wartime work, will be presented in a wild performance that involves a karaoke program and a gestural score arranged by Alyza DelPan-Monley and Smith-Stewart.