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A friend claims that the worst line in any recent film is the line in Damage when Jeremy Irons, in the heat of passion , stares at Juliette Binoche and demands: "Who are You? Who are You? " "Stupid man ", said my friend, "doesn't he realise she is anything he desires?"
Beyond the dream of the unattainable Other, beyond the play of the mask and the veil are the empty spaces of desire and its transactions. Desire takes place in the gaps, at the rims, not only of the body's orifices but also in the interstices of familial relations, in the transactions of violence and love, in the negotiations of looking and hearing, in the unspoken covenant of the phrases that trace out this space of desire: fuck me, eat me, give, it to me babe.
These are all lines from Deej Fabyc's exhibition This Rose Is For Sale. Whilst Fabyc's multi-media works refer to the collusions of desire and its infinite transactions, this is not a feel-good 1990's version of 'sacred' sex as opposed to a 1980's power play of sexual identity. There is nothing innocent or therapeutic about the confession/collusion of Fabyc's Admission of Patricality/lf I Listen to Bach my Father Lives. On a balcony we find the shape of a flattened body covered in filthy fake black fur, leather boots protruding from its end . Swathes of glad wrap nearby, a rubber hose, underfelt, masking tape-fetishistic furnishing of an exhausted centre, of a death which might not have taken place. What is this word, patricality, beyond the death of the Father and by what profanity have we daughters exhausted ourselves in bringing him to life? By what incestuous encounter did we come to desire?
And what of love, of mother-love? What is it that you wish your mother had said to you? Fabyc posed this question to friends and acquaintances to create what was, for me, the most potent work in the exhibition, an installation entitled Autograph. On a bedside table, fuller foam oozing from the drawer, is an autograph book. On the wall above is a plastic toothbrush holder on which is resting a tarnished gold necklace, a cheap wedding ring threaded onto it. If we haven't seen this image in a thousand 1950's recreations we should have-it has the disquieting power of seeing your mother's nylon underpants draped across a shower rail. And in the autograph book are the imaginary autographs, the things we wish our mothers had said, which trace out those malignant circuits of love between our mothers and ourselves: "To my sweet young daughter, congratulations on your first kiss ... Let's talk. Love Mummy XXX"; "Dearest one, I've left him and taken your brothers, love Mum XX"; "Darling, my sister, my love, Mum XX"; "Dear Deej, Always remember your drawers. I forgive you. Mum. "
Autograph might be seen as the reverse side of another group of works which bear on the transactions of erotic desire captured in Fabyc's exhibition . Whilst Autograph uses imaginary words to find a way through the hollowed out paths of mother-love, No Money No Honey, Eat Me Babe, On the Line and Cash and Carry Admissions all reproduce the hard currency of desire in the everyday language of the whorehouse-the lingua franca of our sexual transactions: let me be your whore. In a drawing which has the strong linked lines of an Adami delineating the eyes and the mouth at the top, and the vanishing traces of a sketch at the breasts, a woman speaks on the phone: "Eat Me Babe". This is a sexual transaction of saying and hearing, a bind between the players, a game not of the mask but of collusion . And the woman's eyes engage the viewer in a parallel play , never excusing us from our desire but calling us to participate in the exchange.
And in this context, perhaps my friend was wrong . When Jeremy Irons cries "Who are you? Who are you?" perhaps he is not caught in the anguish of the masquerade dreaming of a real woman but instead is playing a new/old game, that game which Fabyc replays through. out this exhibition. Perhaps he is saying what men have always said in the face of women's desire, saying it in the hackneyed phrases of the desire, proposing an exchange: please don't give me your dream of a whole self, your wholesome subjectivity, please be my anonymous