The power of erotic desire to transform the body not only of the desirous subject but also the desired object is presented in art as early as Aeschylus and Ovid. Paul Cava‘s montage Alisma Plantago Aquatica completes the abject quality of this desirousness and subverts the gaze: the presentation of the woman (theatrical curtain drawn to the side), both anal and vaginal, is deliberate, entirely willful and open, and the montage draws into itself all nature, all the world, including the texture of the manmade objects in the montage. The sculpted marble of the staircase, the drapery that hangs between her legs, her legs themselves bound in stockings create a tactile montage that everchanges as the eye is drawn over the work. Along with the abject quality of the presentation is the duality of the conscious and unconscious status of the woman, the plant bonded with the animal and the human, as the past is bound with the present. The eye recoils with the recognition of the life that flows among and through the conjoined veins of animal, human and plant, coursing through both conscious and unconscious. What the woman welcomes is the penetration and interpenetration of object and subject, material and time itself. She is Daphne, pleasure unbound, if still and trapped in her status as nature. There is both terror and pleasure for the spectator in the offered opportunity for penetration: what will become of yet another jointure, of man with woman, what other transformations may, as if by magic, turn into a shared substance of ecstatic experience?
And drama and theatre? Of course drama and theatre: for the subjects speak — even if they whisper, the words and sounds of the women susurrate, for it is always possible that the woman in Cava’s montage speaks, and she may say … the words the erotic dramatist hears through them.
Paul Cava’s Heart of the Matter will appear on the cover of my book Word Made Flesh, due to be published next month by EyeCorner Press.