Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Untitled (Cahun as Monsieur in Banlieu), 1929


Claude Cahun (French, 1892-1954) and Marcel Moore (French, b. Suzanne Malherbe, 1892-1972), Untitled (Cahun as Monsieur in Banlieu), 1929. Photogravure, 4 5/8 x 3 ½ in. Private Collection.

Performing in an obscure theatre company as the character Monsieur in the satire Banlieu or “suburb,” Cahun plays with the face as the site of identity production in gender and class terms. The convincing maleness of her angular features and cavalier facial expression pushes drag beyond cross-dressing to challenge the biological “truth” exposed as image-type within a conventional head shot. While photography has been used to classify and fix the subject, Cahun uses it to emphasize the instability of gender, sex, and class as manifested on the body.