The Shocking Power of Claude Cahun

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Jessa Crispin discusses discovering the darkly fascinating self portraits of gender-bending surrealist photographer Claude Cahun and the mystery in her life, in an excerpt from The Dead Ladies Project:

The Cahun version of Acker had the shaved head, but angled to look frail and sickly, near death, a pre-Holocaust vision of the Auschwitz survivor. And yet a defiant lip, a gaze too furious to meet the camera directly. The power of it, the shock of it. And yet the first thing I thought was All of us girls have been dead for so long. But we’re not going to be anymore, a line from Acker’s Pussycat Fever.


Katie O'Brien is an English major at Cornell University, where she writes for kitsch magazine, DJs for a rock station, and complains about the cold. Find her on Twitter @abluekite. More from this author →