Close Up

19 February 2017: Sarah Pucill: Confessions to the Mirror / Magic Mirror


We're pleased to present a double bill of Sarah Pucill's two feature-length experiments in bringing cinematic life to the photographic and written archive of the French Surrealist Claude Cahun. Pucill will be in conversation with Laura Guy following each screening.

Confessions to the Mirror 
Sarah Pucill
2016 | 68 min | Colour | DCP
Followed by Q&A with Sarah Pucill and Laura Guy

Amidst a visual extravaganza of costumes and hand-made sets, Sarah Pucill's new film Confessions to the Mirror takes its title, from the French Surrealist artist, Claude Cahun’s incomplete memoir. Following Cahun’s text, the film includes Cahun’s early and later life and work including her political propaganda activity and imprisonment in Jersey with her partner Suzanne Malherbe during the Nazi occupation of the island. The tracing of a life is made conscious through the projection of images of the couples home in Jersey into a domestic London setting.

As a sequel to Pucill's previous film, Magic Mirror, Confessions To The Mirror continues Pucill's experiment to bring cinematic life to the photographic and written archive of Claude Cahun.  In her new film Pucill animates re-stagings of Cahun’s black and white self-portrait and still-life photographs with voices from Cahun's text Confidences au miroir, collaging and transposing Cahun's black and white stills and words, into colour and soundscape.

Magic Mirror
Sarah Pucill
2013 | 75 min | B/W | DCP
Followed by Q&A with Sarah Pucill and Laura Guy

Part essay, part film poem, Magic Mirror translates the startling force of Claude Cahun’s oeuvre into a choreographed series of Vivantes Tableaux. Re-staging the French Surrealist’s black and white photographs with selected extracts from her book Aveux Non Avenus (Confessions Denied), the film explores the links between Cahun’s photographs and writings.

Cahun’s multi-subjectivity, as expressed in both her photographs and book, set the scene for the film, where she dresses and makes her face up in many different ways, swapping identities between gender, age and the inanimate. Three women masquerade as Cahun’s characters: often it is hard to tell them apart. The splitting of identity appears as a double which persists throughout; as literal double through super imposition, as shadow, imprints in sand, reflections in water, mirror or distorting glass. Likewise, the voice is split between differently dressed voices, which at times overlap, and at times are in conversation. The kaleidoscope aesthetic that runs through the film serves not only to weave between image and word but also between the work of Cahun and the films of Sarah Pucill, creating a dialogue between two artists who share similar iconography and concerns.