Miriam Cahn

ME AS HAPPENING


The Power Plant presents Miriam Cahn's first major solo exhibition in Canada and North America.

CURATOR: GAËTANE VERNA

In her first major solo exhibition in Canada and North America, Miriam Cahn presents an expansive body of work across The Power Plant’s gallery spaces. Encompassing works in chalk, charcoal, pastel, and watercolor on paper, and oil paintings—from the diminutive to the monumental—as well as film, photography, and text, the exhibition explores critical issues of our time, seen through the prism of feminism. Uncompromising and confrontational, Cahn's work has conscientiously explored a series of themes over the course of her career, including women's rights, identity, sexuality, conflict, and space. She challenges the conventions of art history, contemporary connoisseurship, and how an artist engages with the world.

This exhibition presents some of these themes in a distinct yet interrelated manner. At the core of these themes is the role of women in today's society, and their continued worldwide fight for basic rights and equality. Some of the works question gender roles, especially perceptions of femininity and masculinity, discrediting traditional tropes, and socially constructed definitions. Other works explore the human body and the dynamics of intimacy, interrogating the relationship between sex, violence, and power. A collection of chalk drawings captures the purported differences between men's and women's environments. While the former are often associated with the outer world, conjuring sombre imagery of warships, oil rigs, and high-rise buildings; the latter continue to be identified with the intimacy of domesticity.

Much of Cahn's work is shaped by her biography, and her penetrating understanding of the world. She draws from past and present experiences and observations, and often revisits previous work to establish the links between the personal, natural, and historical. Depictions of heads, bodies, and human beings abound in her work, reflecting on private and family memories, as do imagery of plants, animals, and unrecognizable creatures. More recently, Cahn has been contemplating contemporary international migrations of refugees in which women find themselves especially vulnerable. Recalling the history of persecuted populations in Europe, Cahn sympathizes with the displacement of Middle Eastern, African, and other exiles fleeing their troubled homelands even as they risk perishing in the course of the journey to Europe, or have to endure the hostility of the inhabitants of the towns where they hope to take refuge. Cahn’s work holds Europe accountable for maintaining its democratic ideals and confronting the divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric deployed by right wing political parties , even as she questions the absurd and dangerous fantasy of a “pure Europe” in today’s inextricably linked world.

Miriam Cahn (b. 1949 in Basel) lives and works in Stampa, Graubünden, Switzerland. Significant solo exhibitions include Palazzo Castelmur (Stampa, 2021); Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing (2020); the exhibition I AS HUMAN at Kunstmuseum Bern (2019) which travelled to Haus der Kunst, Munich (2019) and Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2019); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2019); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2019), among others. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions at various venues internationally, including the Sydney Biennial (2018); Documenta 14, Kassel (2017); Museu de arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (2017); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016).

The exhibition Miriam Cahn: ME AS HAPPENING was initiated, organized, and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in collaboration with Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark, where it was first presented (8 October 2020-4 April 2021). ME AS HAPPENING received support from Assistant Curators Amin Alsaden, (2019-2021) Nancy McCain & Bill Morneau Curatorial Fellow and Jacqueline Kok, (2021-2023) Nancy McCain & Bill Morneau Curatorial Fellow.