A Photographic History in Jersey’s Rock Faces
In March last year, I visited Jersey, in the Channel Islands off the coast of France, to undertake an artist’s residency. I wanted to continue my research on French avant-garde queer artist and writer Claude Cahun, and Jersey provided an opportunity to engage with the largest collection of her photographs and ephemera. Originally from Nantes, Cahun settled in Jersey in 1937 with her life-long female partner Marcel Moore. Together they created a complex and fascinating body of work transcending photography, writing, drawing and collage. Known for her postmodern concepts of gender, Cahun used self-portraiture as a means of complicating identity and gender fluidity. I was fascinated by her subversive self-portraits, enamoured with her approach: performative, experimental and seemingly unbounded by the expectations of women during the early twentieth century.
I knew little about Jersey before arriving on the island. In my mind I pictured Moore’s photographs of Cahun, set against a coastal backdrop in St. Brelade’s Bay. During my visits to these sites, I became increasingly drawn to more remote parts of the island.
“In Jersey, the layers of history are seemingly etched into the cliff faces, rock formations and granite slabs of the landscape.”
Jersey contains a number of Neolithic remains, many of which take the form of passage graves, around six thousand years old. These sites are dotted around the island and have been excavated throughout history. Archaeologists have found pottery and beads, arrowheads, urns and querns (mill stones), and skeletons, often in small numbers—adults and children huddled in crouching positions in side chambers. Since their inception these sites have been used for ritualistic purposes; their position in the landscape often overlooks the sea or points towards significant landmarks. La Hougue Bie is home to a nine-metre-long passage and chamber, illuminated by a shaft of light that comes just twice a year on the days of the autumn and spring equinox.
In Jersey, the layers of history are seemingly etched into the cliff faces, rock formations and granite slabs of the landscape. These photographs are a record of the sites I visited and the places I was moved by during the early spring and summer of the year passed.
These images were created to sit alongside Clare Rae’s Never Standing on Two Feet, a series of performative photographs that record the artist’s response to the Cahun archive, and the landscape of Jersey.
Entre Nous: Clare Rae and Claude Cahun is showing at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, Australia from 23 March — 6 May, 2018.
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Issue No. 1
In Issue No. 1 we meet Australian fashion icon Jenny Kee, translator from Italian Ann Goldstein and French-Cuban music duo Ibeyi. We learn about Ramadan, the Aboriginal ball game Marngrook, the Kiribati dance, the art of pickling, and the importance of home. And we see what it’s like to dress up in Myanmar, live in Cuernavaca, make ceramics from different soil, and walk the streets of Florence.
Issue No. 2
In Issue No. 2 we meet New York-based Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson, and Croatian painter Stipe Nobilo. We discover how the French protect their language and the way women—all around the world—have used textiles as their political voice. We listen to lovers rock, prepare a boisterous Korean barbecue, venture to go to Feria de Jerez and eat our way around Hong Kong.
Issue No. 4
In Issue No. 4 we meet Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, Indigenous Australian Elders Uncle Bob Smith and Aunty Caroline Bradshaw, and Palestinian-American chef and artist Amanny Ahmad. We peer inside the Parisian ateliers Lesage and Lemarié, muse over the iconic lines of European chair design and celebrate the colourful woodblock prints of Japanese artist Awazu Kiyoshi. And we venture along Morocco’s Honey Highway, get lost in the markets of Oaxaca and discover the favours of Ghana.
Issue No. 5
In Issue No. 5 we travel to the mountains with Etel Adnan, along coastlines wherever waves roll in, and then all over the world through the photographic archive of Lindsay James Stanger. We celebrate hair braiding in South Africa, Salasacan weaving techniques in Ecuador, Vedic jewellery traditions and the new sound of Ukraine. We meet artist Cassi Namoda, choreographer Yang Liping and lace-maker Mark Klauber. And we visit a bakery in Tel Aviv, discover the joys of making arak, and spend a summer stretching mozzarella in Italy.