Jewish Culture & IdeasPhotographyContemporary Art
Feb 7, 2019–Jul 7, 2019
How do we depict “the self” if it is unknowable, inherently constructed, and ever-changing? How does the concept of portraiture shift when categories are in crisis and visibility itself is problematic? Jewish thought on performed and fluid identity can be interpreted in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible, an archetypal story of an empowered declaration of Jewish identity. Likewise, the Talmudic notion of svara is a potent entry-point to Jewish practices of self-determination, themes that animate Show Me as I Want to Be Seen.
Taking the work of French Jewish artist and writer Claude Cahun (1894–1954) and her lifelong lover and collaborator Marcel Moore (1892–1972) as its starting point, Show Me as I Want to Be Seen examines the empowered representation of fluid and complex identity. Cahun (born Lucy Schwob) and Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe) were pioneers in their bold representations of an unfixed self. This exhibition positions their work in dialogue with ten contemporary artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, video, and 3-D animation. The contemporary artists in the exhibition—Nicole Eisenman, Rhonda Holberton, Hiwa K, Young Joon Kwak, Zanele Muholi, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Gabby Rosenberg, Tschabalala Self, Davina Semo, and Isabel Yellin—also address notions of the opaque, constructed, and shifting self.
Show Me as I Want to Be Seen is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum and is curated by CJM Assistant Curator Natasha Matteson. The exhibition is accompanied by a 112-page, fully illustrated hardcover catalog published by The CJM with original contributions by Natasha Matteson, Rabbi Benay Lappe, and a newly-commissioned piece of fiction by Porpentine Charity Heartscape.
This exhibition is included in your general admission ticket. Museum admission also includes free access to all public programs and tours, unless otherwise noted. Public tours are offered daily (except Wednesdays) and are available first-come, first-serve—no reservations are necessary. Private guided tours, access tours for visitors with disabilities, and guided tours for school groups of all ages are also available.
A Probing Look at How We Perform and Present the Self, Hyperallergic
Artists Explore Self with Nuance and Complexity, SF/Arts
Gender fluidity & mutable identity, Bay Area Reporter
‘Beneath This Mask, Another Mask’: Identity is Unfixed in CJM’s ‘Show Me,’ KQED
‘Show Me as I Want to be Seen’ examines artistic and gender identity, San Francisco Chronicle
How Queer Artists Are Rethinking the Fluidity of Identity, them.
The many selves of gender-bending artist and Nazi resister Claude Cahun, The J. Weekly
The Self, as Depicted by Claude Cahun and Contemporary Artists, Widewalls
Representation matters, Nylon
A look ahead to 2019: 5 Bay Area art museum exhibitions not to be missed, San Francisco Chronicle
Show Me as I Want to Be Seen is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum and curated by Natasha Matteson, Assistant Curator.
Support for this exhibition is generously provided by Suzanne and Elliott Felson; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Gaia Fund; Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund; Dorothy R. Saxe; Susan and Michael Steinberg; Bavar Family Foundation; Nellie and Max Levchin; Phyllis Moldaw; Roselyne Chroman Swig; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Judith and Robert Aptekar; Dana Corvin and Harris Weinberg; Rosanne and Al Levitt; Joyce B. Linker; Douglas D. Mandell, Alexandra Moses; Eta and Sass Somekh; Ruth Stein; Toole Family Charitable Foundation; Marilyn and Murry Waldman; Kendra and Tom Kasten; Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery; Barbara Ravizza and John Osterweis; David Saxe; and Fred Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson.