press release

Show Me as I Want to Be Seen February 7–July 7, 2019

"Under this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces." —Claude Cahun

An exhibition featuring Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Nicole Eisenman, Rhonda Holberton, Hiwa K, Young Joon Kwak, Zanele Muholi, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Gabby Rosenberg, Tschabalala Self, Davina Semo, and Isabel Yellin.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents Show Me as I Want to Be Seen, an original exhibition featuring the work of groundbreaking French Jewish artist, Surrealist, and activist Claude Cahun (1894–1954) and her lifelong lover and collaborator Marcel Moore (1892–1972) in dialogue with ten contemporary artists to examine the complex and empowered representation of a fluid self.

Cahun and Moore are recognized as pioneers for their bold depictions of unfixed selfhood. The pair is best known for their photographic portraits of Cahun assuming various guises, gender presentations, and modes of affect. Together, Cahun and Moore avowed the self by disavowing its constancy—an understanding of selfhood that remains uncannily relevant today.

Show Me as I Want to Be Seen positions their work alongside that of ten contemporary artists working in mediums ranging from painting and sculpture to video and 3-D animation. These diverse emerging and established artists also address notions of opaque, constructed, and shifting selves. Many of the artists create overt portraits in which self-perception and self-determination take precedence over the pleasure or comprehension of the viewer; others represent a complex subjectivity by deploying intentional illegibility.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 112-page fully illustrated hardcover catalogue that includes an essay by exhibition curator Natasha Matteson; an interview with Rabbi Benay Lappe, an award-winning educator specializing in the application of queer theory to Talmud study; and a newly-commissioned piece of fiction by Porpentine Charity Heartscape.

The CJM will also install a resource room to provide visitors the opportunity to learn more about the themes, artists, and stories in Show Me as I Want to Be Seen. In an effort to address questions of representation across demographics, the resource room will include a listening station developed in conjunction with Alice Wong, founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project (DVP). The DVP is an online platform dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying Disability media and culture. The listening station features excerpts of three oral histories by Deaf and Disabled artists interviewed and collected by Wong at StoryCorps San Francisco. This collaboration is part of The CJM’s ongoing effort to create pathways within The Museum that support conversations around Disability arts and culture through programs, community-based partnerships, and artist initiatives. The resource room will also feature a range of materials, including artist monographs and other publications that shaped the conception of the exhibition. Located on the second floor in the Yud Gallery, the resource room will be open to visitors throughout the run of the show.

About The Contemporary Jewish Museum
With the opening of its new building on June 8, 2008, The Contemporary Jewish Museum ushered in a new chapter in its twenty-plus year history of engaging audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The facility, designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in hands-on activities. The CJM brings together tradition and innovation in an exploration of the Jewish experience in the 21st century.