Marlene Dumas

Improper Relationships

If you can identify with ‘the pictures’ generation
and with those who’ve seen more reel love than real love
and if you can appreciate Stage [1],
where the two shall never meet
because they were in different scenes and on separate screens all along;
you realize that in the beginning was not the word, nor the flesh
but the Editor, who cut the frames, who gave the names and said,
‘Not tonight, Josephine.’

[1] Stage, 1996, a short film by Steve McQueen (black-and-white film, transferred to video, no sound, 6 min., loop).

Improper Relationships. Originally published in Marlene Dumas, Phaidon, London, 1999, p.142; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.