Pleasure of the Text
Borrowing both title and inspiration from Roland Barthe’s Pleasure of the Text (1975), my bookwork incorporates five classic novels about women: Moll Flanders, Emma, Jane Eyre, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and The Portrait of a Lady. The book pages are cut into narrow strips and configured as a sine wave, viewed as a narrative continuum in a long wooden box with a glass window. Attached to the front of the display case is a strip of white rabbit fur, once a belt to my mother’s remodeled fur coat. Viewers “read” the cut text through the window, attempting to decipher its encoded visual language. The unfamiliar calligraphy appears as a puzzle of black markings floating on white paper, enticing readers to sort out the familiar forms of the printed text that has suddenly become illegible. Viewers are barred from handling the encased pages at the same time they are encouraged, if not lured, to touch the fur, thus experiencing a displaced pleasure of the text through this sensual object. Ironically, the lurid object is accessible while the book becomes the forbidden thing.