Marlene Dumas

North Africa (Woman of Algiers)

Home of the striptease.
Home of the dance of the seven veils.
Home of the ancestors of Abraham,
forefather of the Jews, Muslims, and the Christians.
Home of a God that does not want to be reproduced.
About Algiers, Nelson Mandela had military training there,
learned lessons of guerilla tactics from their liberation war.
Delacroix made a painting called The Women of Algiers (1834),
women relaxing in a peaceful female harem.
In 1954, Picasso made (one of many) sensuous paintings
inspired by this French-African source.
Little did he know where this orientalism would later go.
In 2000 I saw a photograph of a young girl standing naked,
held by – ‘exhibited’ between – two posing French soldiers.
It was taken in 1960 in Algiers.
I painted my Woman of Algiers in 2001.

North Africa (Woman of Algiers). Written (together with Homage to the Polaroid, Measuring your own Grave, Framing and Naming, Southern Comfort, Beaches ain’t what they used to be and Expiring Dates) for and first published in Marlene Dumas, Measuring your own Grave, (cat.), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008, p.177; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.