The Power Plant

Miriam Cahn


Courtesy Christian Charisius, photo by alliance / dpa / AP Images

Miriam Cahn is a Swiss contemporary painter. Cahn 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); and Kunsthaus Bregenz (2019), among others. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions at various venues internationally, including the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018); documenta 14, Kassel (2017); São Paulo Museum of Art (2017); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016).

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 she often revisits previous pieces to establish the links between the personal, natural, and historical. Depictions of heads, bodies, and human beings abound in her work, alluding to private and family memories. She also includes imagery of plants, animals, and unrecognizable creatures. More recently, Cahn has been contemplating contemporary migrations of refugees in which women find themselves especially vulnerable. Recalling the history of persecuted populations in Europe, Cahn empathizes with the displaced persons from Western Asia and Africa fleeing their troubled homelands, even as they risk perishing in the course of their journey to the continent and often encounter hostility in the places where they hope to take refuge. Cahn’s work aims to make Europe live up to its democratic ideals and confronts 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.