CN: disturbing themes, references to violence, body horror
Okay. Here’s a skeleton. Is it human? I’m sorry. Do you think
Humor me. Your lips are chapped. You should try this new lip stuff I just bought. I guess they’re trying to get influencers to post about it so they made the container…I don’t know. A sculpture. So I didn’t want to buy it. I don’t care about aesthetics. I know, I know. But I was desperate and … it really works.
Back to the skeleton. The skin is scraped away. Lips, sure. But more than that. Layers. Not as many layers as you’d think.
Am I grossing you out?
Step back for a second.
No, please stay where you are.
Think about it. The body is anatomy. A textbook. Unobtrusive, dull even. Picture clean precision, the professor with … not with a murderer’s knife. A scalpel. Sleek and hygienic. Not that there’s too much risk of infection, given the anatomy subject isn’t alive. But still. It’s good to know the whole procedure is clean and professional. The form on the table, at the mercy of the professor’s educated hands, is still a person, and should be treated as such.
Imagine: you look down at the body, you realize you knew who that person was before she died. Yes, I’m going with she. The final girl. Every podcast you’ve ever heard. She was alone. She opened the door. Don’t you know women should never open doors?
You see her with half a face and you still say, “That’s her. She’s dead now, but it’s her.” But what if you hadn’t met her before?
“I found a body.”
“I thought it was a mannequin.”
“I thought it was a statue.”
I want to know you, body and context. I want to learn the stories behind each of your scars, marks, and bruises. Tell me in chronological order, or logical order, or in order of strongest to weakest associations. Whatever order makes you want to keep speaking. You can relax now. I’m drawing you, not your body. I want to sink into your story. Make this world unreal by telling me about a world infinitely more fascinating. It’s not that I want to escape here, I just want to travel someplace new, someplace like the inner thoughts you craft into a landscape as real as this room. I painted these walls with matte white meant to evoke
It’s waiting for you to fill it with stories. The first story I want is the story of your body.
I have this theory about your left eyebrow. It’s different from the right. The right has a delightful, almost wry shape. Perfect. It is the picture of an eyebrow. But the left? It has a gash cleaving the hairs, leaving a thin line of flesh peeking out above your eye. This isn’t a flaw. I don’t think anything perfect is ever actually beautiful.
How can I truly understand your body when I have no way to dissect you?
I have drawn you so many times. I know the precise shape of your throat, how your skin pools into two delicate collarbones. I know all of this with my eyes closed. I can place my finger in the dip, thumb the bone, that breathtaking place where I can feel how your body comes together. But I need to know more.
I need to see and touch and know your insides. I need to touch a part of you that isn’t soft. That’s how we learn about anatomy: we dissect in order to understand. I dissected your words. But there’s more for me to learn.
So where would you like to begin?
The things people are saying about my work! You would laugh. Or, maybe you wouldn’t laugh, but your chapped lips would betray how funny you found everything.
It goes against every fiber of my belief system to pick a favorite color, but recent experience has given me a preference for red. Sold-sticker red.
Yes, the paintings all sold. But only one was worth the attention it got. All the reviews focus on it, view it as a triumph. I have to say, I can’t pretend to be modest about the piece. My personal favorite comment in a review: “The collection’s standout piece, (De)composition, makes you wonder if the painter fell in love with his subject. The face isn’t all there, the exposed muscle shimmers. Red. Rendered with such exquisite attention and (dare I say it?) desire.”
Something happened when I painted you. A flicker or a flash. The clench of muscles in your mouth. I don’t know how to explain it. But I’ll try: I saw something that I can’t explain.
The opening. Not your mouth. The show. The room was well-lit and the hors d’oeuvres were placed on plates that matched the paintings’ frames. I love details. A woman came up to me:
“All these paintings. Faces ripped off. It’s disgusting. But not as disgusting as it should be.”
She took a gulp from her stainless steel cocktail glass and said, “I don’t understand how something this macabre can be so sensual.”
“It makes you nervous,” I said. “Doesn’t it?”
“Well,” she said. “I suppose art’s supposed to get under your skin.”
Kit Lascher is a multifaceted creature from Trash Wonderland. She dropped out of the same theatre school as James Dean and has worked hard not to burn out as quickly. Her work has been produced in LA, NYC, and Seattle. She takes a corvidian approach to artmaking (collects anything shiny, believes in setting fire to genres and many other constructs, and always remembers even when she’s gluing fragments together). Favorite artistic projects include creating and producing Recover: A Cabaret by and for People with Mental Illness, publishing zines with WolfShark Press, writing ½ a Crayon which was produced by Reboot Theatre Company, performing interdisciplinary drag for thousands of people at Pride and for handfuls of people in bars, helping others realize their artistic projects through script support/directing/jam sessions, and writing and performing pieces about angels, androids, and everything in between and outside. You can follow her on Instagram @kit_stitches.