Lindiwe Mngxitama

carcass of beef.jpg

Chaim Soutine, Carcass of Beef, circa 1925. Courtesy ARS, NY

apocalyptic landscape(s) | carcass by another name  

When I started writing this, I thought I had something to say about a loss pushed-heaved-panted  out of my body that once left it suspended—eyes-wide-shut-dripping-oozing-leaking—within the  grasp of Decay’s drowning stench; Flesh of My Flesh made Carcass. However, as they reached out  to me and the inside folds of my memories—these strung up ravenous reds, fauvist yellows and Turiya blues of a homeless wanderer who would never be able to fathom me, although we had  both been named Other—it was my Grief that had something to say about the ambivalence of  Love, Loss and Wanting. What is carcass by another name, if not perhaps mournful decay of  possibility?  


wrapped up in H/history;  

wrapped up in blazing apocalypse;  

wrapped up in an unfed sumptuous H/hunger;  


Wildfire of melancholic and forlorn Flesh, I’ve heard many versions of this “oil-splattered” song  before—been engulfed by the ashes of its embers—felt the weightedness of its ghostly form move  through me. I’ve been beholden to its excavation of a passed-down-Loss misnamed, mythologised. What is carcass by another name, if not perhaps fertiliser for a different day? Person and Wake of  feeling resurrected in the process of observation:  


Here the mystery blazes forth, flesh more like flesh than flesh, nerves more like nerves  than  nerves, even if they are painted with rivers of rubies, burning sulfur, droplets of turquoise, lakes of crushed emeralds and sapphires, streaks of purple and pearl, a palpitation of silver that rustles and  shimmers, an uncommon flame that wrings matter to its depths after having smelted all the jewels  of its mines. [1] 


Murder, murder. Someone is killing Soutine! a neighbour is said to have yelled out as blood leaked through the floorboards amidst the painter’s frenzied movements from canvas-to-carcass-canvas to-carcass. But, there is poetry—or perhaps a certain poetics of (un)living—to be found in the  palpability and stench of decaying Flesh in this dance with a H/hunger that cannot be  satisfied. A poetics of (un)living that says something about being radioactive with one's  own Unwantedness. Suspended between war, isolation, displacement, violence, eroticism, and  longing, I wonder if the sounds of Soutine’s weeping and laughing as he looked upon his canvas— still writhing and twitching—came apart as they landed on the ears of those close enough to hear them. I wonder if they were able to untangle them from ambivalence. If they were, were they able to discern the parts which were a duet with History and those which were the crescendo of his haunted solo?  


[1] Soutine by Elie Faure (1929)