Paper1980

Touch
by Patricia Coleman

He sought the perfect bodies of young women. He made a reputation in the 80s art world with this unexceptional predilection. His live-work loft was in a cast iron building on lower Broadway. I went up in a large freight elevator and entered directly into the open space, empty except for paint and canvases, rollers, no brushes. Into the windowless back he squeezed a kitchen, above it a raised bed. He’d drink tea at a little table there after work and tell young models of his depression, his search for failures, his sexless ecstasy with a Japanese woman.

He also explained that he wanted to take the virtuosity out of the art-making process so that the canvas reflected more the models than the artist — the beautiful bodies of young women.

He dipped his roller into a pan of red paint and stroked back and forth, up and down over my t*ts, legs, tops of feet until he covered the entire front of my flesh. He stepped back a few feet holding his paunch to gaze detachedly at a wet body. He led me by my palm to two inches from the canvas, so that he would neither mar his work nor sully his objects. Now his fingers lightly pressed at the small of the back and other places that held their ground, kept their distance. He wanted no voids between object and work. He especially made sure the pelvis and widow’s peak made contact. He tried bodies out in all the primary colors.

After he finished, he’d invite me to the kitchen where he’d spend hours bent over in confession. I listened to his tales of impotence and desire, waiting to get paid. He paid according to mood. Too much or not enough.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION:  The pic is of me in 1980/ Downtown modeling job for a paper — I do not remember which. They were highlighting paper suits like the one I am wearing.

coleman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia Coleman is a writer/director, born and living in Brooklyn.  She has published stories, essays, poems and interviews in Bomb, PAJ, The New Review of Literature, Nedjeljni Vjesnik, Culture Magazine, Maintenant 11, Zoetica, POST Vote, FishFood, and Poetica. She has presented papers on silence, sound, and the disembodied voice at FOOT, ATHE,  Le Son au Theatre. As a director and sometimes as writer/director, she has staged 25+ productions at The Kitchen, Chashama, Here, etc. In 2014 she staged her site-specific adaptation of Euripdes’ Medea  with soundscape by Richard Kamerman at Brooklyn Glass (a glass blowing studio in Gowanus). She received her PhD in Theatre from the Graduate Center. Her dissertation was on the disembodied voice of Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater.