Lisa Lee


Hans Bellmer, The Doll (La Poupée), 1932-45

The doll body poised
for recognition: four legs
swivel from bulb belly, splayed
in prosaic multiplication,
its syntax swollen
with mismeaning, accretion
and excess of familiar parts.
The hairless sex folded
palm to palm. Legs fractured
into mask and armor.
Flesh of eggshell finish.

Art in America:
reified, dismembered, and reconfigured          victim          provocateuse
innocent child          precocious temptress          seductive force
complicity in its own brutalization          catalogue of perversions
from fetishism to pedophilia          compelling in its strange beauty
frightening in its power

Four legs bent,
a spider stilled by sudden light.

A mannequin sorted.

As in a dream, the body can change the center of gravity of its image....It
can add to one what it has taken from another: for instance, it can place the leg
on top of the arm, the vulva in the armpit, in order to make
'compressions,' 'proofs of analogies,' 'ambiguities, 'puns,' strange
anatomical 'probability calculations.'

Body disarms language.
Language ceases to gauge
what it sees. The tongue,
red-handed, cannot seize.

Is love the reason we dismember
the beloved? Remembering now only
the damp underside of her breast,
now her pelvic bones like whittled handles.
The way a quick flicker of tongue
conflates her mouth with her sex?

In this way he made a second pair of legs, a pair of arms, an upper torso,
two pelvises, an extra torso with four breasts, an additional pelvis with
curious folds of material round its waist, and the stomach sphere.

Small calves hoarded and unhomed
lash out. Lavish speech greets them.
The sex flushes a darker shade of pink.


Sue Taylor, "Hans Bellmer at Ubu," Art in America, February 1996. p. 9

Peter Webb, Hans Bellmer, London and New York: Quartet Books, 1985. p. 38, 60-61

This poem is a response to La Poupée (Centre George Pompidou, Paris) and to the language used in the critical discourse surrounding it. As the doll is composed of discrete parts, so too is this poem.