lady lazarus




Lady Lazarus: Artist book & zine, Lace curtains & Wallpaper, 2020

Lady Lazarus, Sylvia Plath: in this response I constructed a sequence of abstract images depicting a disembodied strip tease, the woman is not in the frame but as she removes a piece of clothing it appears in the scene, the emphasis put on the objects - instead of a woman- which feature as symbols of sexist physical standards for women particularly in the 50s, such as high heels, corsets, belts with added holes, hair rollers etc. The images are superimposed in a clinical/ morbid nature to resemble X-rays and are printed on translucent paper which contrast highly with the orange which represents Sylvia and woman alike who are 'peeled and squeezed' by men.

Sylvia refers to her death/ suicide as a show that is viewed for the entertainment of others, hence the curtains on the cover to indicate the start of a show. They are lace which symbolises the voyageristic nature of her death she felt people 'peeping through the curtains' of her life and also remind us of intimate underwear - a frame of reference to the of the sexist critique Plath was faced with at the time. The second cover spelling out Lady L in lace which I painstakingly stitched together inspired by 1950s women who would make all the family's clothing. The interiors are made from wall paper and also reflect domestic duties she was expected to perform as a woman.

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it-

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?-

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot-
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart-
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash-
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.