Whilst searching for material on Bataille I chanced upon Hans Bellmer and his dolls. This surrealist worked during a time when Nazism was on the rise, Bellmer created several dolls with fragmented bodies that could be dismantled and arranged in various configurations. He created sexualized images of the female body--distorted, dismembered, or menaced in sinister scenarios. Using a narrative format, he then photographed the dolls in a range of grotesque-often sexual-positions. The images he conveyed were of death and decay, abuse and longing
What we have are fragmented bodies or doll pieces; broken up and contorted sexual forms that represent the body of young girls:
Hans Bellmer. Plate 12 of Les Jeux de la poupée (The Games of the Doll). Paris, Les Editions premières, 1949. Hand-colored black-and-white photograph.
In this image the doll is a tragic amputee, armless and tied on a shadowy stairway with frayed twine. The description of the image says:
"With a second (reversed) pelvis substituting for its chest, the doll is given buttocks for breasts, and these seem incongruously large, considering the undeveloped pudenda and the juvenile hair-bow. The doll's left leg is bound at the knee, while the right thigh ends abruptly in midair, exposing a hollow core. All is passive, inert: one hand lies limply against the banister, and a blank, unseeing eye suggests a loss of consciousness.
Who, one wonders, is responsible for the naked and abject condition of the doll?"
Surrealist women are headless, footless and armless . . . they are dismembered, punctured and severed:
Bellmer 's concerns are with the fetishising of body parts and fragmentation of
the sexual form. This comment highlights the Bataillian concerns:
"The fetishising of body parts and fragmentation of the sexual form ignored the constraints of physical actuality. ...Bellmer's sense of taboo lay not in what convention condemned but what was hidden in the darkness of the psyche (where it is far from safe). Bellmer's psychological confrontation and violence may constitute a spiritual jolt that liberates from habit and known codings. He dragged terrible desires out of the darkness and into cognition so that we could assimilate the full reality of our passions and the content of evil in them. How else were we to transcend them (in whatever way we ought) if not by first knowing them?"
We should find this disturbing familar.
Consider the violence and repression wrought upon assylum seekers (including women and children) in Australia.
Is not the way we treat children made strange by the political repression by the state.
Are there not connections between sadism of the security guards in the Detention centres and the liberal state?
Are not these mutilated bodies the bodies of children living in detention centres that are run as prisons by private enterprise?
These images of the constructed female body are far more disturbing than the routine pornographic work on the Internet.
On Bataille's account the violence and desire in the mutilated bodies opens up a way of thinking which breaks the patterns of liberal thought, opens the possibilities of new ideas and bypasses instrumental reason and utility, and explores the body's potential capacity to imagine, dream and invent. This is otherwise to the current glorification of the pornographic that is everywhere and which is anything but emancipatory.Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at November 28, 2003 10:38 PM | TrackBack