Naked Bodies

On the one hand – there is the immediacy of the senses …

I can recall with great accuracy how it physically felt
when, as a child, I unexpectedly stepped
with my bare feet on the slippery snails
that appeared after the rains.

How I watched the frogs. Their heavy breathing,
their bulging eyes. The texture of their skin.

The moon disturbing the film-images
of the Drive-in theatre called the SKY VIEW.

How soft my grandmother felt to touch.
How blue she bruised. How the sun shone through
her almost transparent pink ears…

But on the other hand – I know the endless sidesteps of the mind

I’ve grown up with ‘the politics of paradise’.
I know about the mingling of attraction and
disgust human beings feel when they look
at the skins of others. The thoughts they think.
The contradictions they dress up with careless ‘intuition’.

And I am also aware of the differences between
human beings and artificial images. That oil and
paint, not flesh and blood, run through their veins.
My figures know that too. And like fallen angels do
they blame me (and you) for creating them
to exist in the land of abstraction – called art.


Naked Bodies. Originally published in Waiting (for meaning) (cat.), Kunsthalle zu Kiel & Schleswig Holsteinischer Kunstverein, Kiel | Schleswig Holstein: 1988; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.