An excerpt from the exhibition catalogue “Myths and Mortals,” forthcoming from David Zwirner
Books next month.

Claire Messud, May 27, 2019

Marlene Dumas, Longing (2018). © Marlene Dumas. Courtesy of David Zwirner, NY/Hong Kong.
The French psychoanalytic feminists of the 1970s and 1980s (Julia
Kristeva, Luce Irigaray) argued that openness of vision and multiplicity
of experience is affiliated with the feminine. Jouissance encompasses the
idea that just as the multiple orgasm is a privilege of women’s bodies,
so, too, the (potentially disruptive) apprehension of multiple textual
revelations, a nonlinear experience not directed to a single climax, is an
expression of feminine experience. In the creation—as opposed to the
consumption—of art, versions of artistic openness (which may occur in the
work of artists of any gender) are, by this reading, “feminine,” and work
against traditional narrative or visual structures of meaning that both
presume and imply a unitary self on a singular trajectory.

‘Death and Pleasure Are Intertwined’: Novelist Claire Messud on the Emotional Magnitudes of Marlene Dumas’s Painting