A Woman Unclothed

by Christine Laffer



A woman unclothed, without the protection normally offered by a garment, ends up revealing her natural coat. This woman, who lies here on the page, is covered by a hairy froth on her legs, her arms, her back, which forms delicately fronded swirls. Marked by the excess of her embarrassingly animal surface, she searches for a cover. She finds herself caught outside, stretching along the page. It is of a substance that does not make room for her. No convenient parting, no slit, no cut in the language allows her to insert herself between. The lines are close together, close against her, but closed...

This text repeats itself across the page, with continual variation, like the sound of knocking on a door. The rapping changes tone and rhythm to convey the questioning of the visitor, who cannot "read" what lies beyond the wood. The figure remains outside the text, superseding and impinging upon it, injuring its readability. Still, the text supports her, describes her, provides a background to her discomfort. The idea of a feminist text, of feminine writing, invokes a strange, dream-like engagement with words, with history, with the history of words. Do I use a patriarchal language when I speak? Can I subvert logic and still produce meaning, discourse and argument? The dream dissipates under the scrutiny of a direct gaze, but leaves a residue, a shadow, a palimpsest. The odalisque has hair. *

Christine Laffer, who created this art work especially for these pages, weaves, draws and writes in San Jose. She also serves as Gallery Coordinator at WORKS/San Jose, and as Associate Editor of (detail).

Dreams and Fantasies