On Words and Images

I can see why many visual artists
dislike words in artworks. They feel
that words dirty the clear water that
has to reflect the sky. It disturbs
the pleasure of the silent image,
the freedom from history, the beauty
of nameless forms.

I want to name our pains.
I want to keep on changing
our names.

I know that neither images nor words,
can escape the drunkenness and
longing caused by the turning
of the world.
Words and images drink the
same wine.
There is no purity to protect.


On Words and Images was originally published in Im Toten Winkel (cat.), Kunstverein und Kunsthaus Hamburg, 1984, p.49; it is 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.