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The femmes Matadors[1] of Marc Marie-Joseph by Alfred Alexandre


Marc Marie JoephJulia Cabosse

Marc Marie Joeph
Julia Cabosse

With Marc Marie-Joseph’s femmes Matadors we are back into Saint-Pierre. In the 19th century. Near the sea. Under the curved blue line of the horizons disrupted by the thick rum steam that rises from the distilleries and seeps into bodies.

In that Saint-Pierre, whose geography, herein, is the floating geography of dream and fantasy, each seamstress has her matador. For which, cardboard after cardboard, she draws the pink or dark lace of costumes where desire, as a reversal of power games, is staged.

Long-line bras, corsets. Frivolous muslin or organdy. Each style is the promise, several times asserted, of a happy affair. But it’s a promise that lies. As a love figure, the matador is a tragic figure. That of love experienced as a death struggle.

What about the intimate? In that which closer affects the body: the underwear? Certainly. But the intimate above all as the narrative of a shared story. Like a narrative of a certain use of body. As a matter of fact, the intimate as a space of confrontation for those who, then, are deprived of public space.

It was understood as being a confrontation, where there are no half-measures. You either die or win.

Either the matador, perceived as a disturbing instance of disorder, dies, disfigured by vice. It is the seduced virtue that dies of having been deposed. Power remains to the law of men that standard the use which is allowed to be made of the body.

Or the matador is the one who carries the death-blow, avenging, through her devoted body, the entire condition of women. The matador is then death itself laughing at the talking of those who, in the daytime, lay down the law in the City and, at night, come by, crawling, to sniff at the flower which murders them.

For, if from one table to another, each petal is a lip and a kiss, yet the flower is not a merely sensual pleasure. It is that small heap of sad material that is placed on graves to say the absence and maintain the memory of the deceased lovers.

The flower, everywhere opened, is thus not only the transparent metaphor of the female genital organ. It is as well, in its opposite fragrances, that which summarizes best the double face of the matador.

In that way painting enters into dialogue with that Creole literature which chose names of floral shows, from then on outdated, to immortalize those favorites who were Edouarlise, Joséphine, Loulouse, Fanélise. Or Fifi Têt Fè whose head scarf carried, according to the gossips, at least four points. Or Amélie Ti-Maquaque, to whom rumour lent amazing elastic capacities, in the acrobatics of her loving embraces.

All these names have today the undone perfume of dried flowers, yes. But they still remain sweet words to be pronounced with greed. Softly, sometimes. In a hushed voice.

As if to call upon the faces of these female ghosts who, as it is said, still haunt Saint-Pierre. And whose presence, at times, outlines, in the evening light, the walls of that town several times eternal.



march 2013.

Traduit du français par Myrtha Richards Marie-Joseph.

You will find Alfred Alexandre biograpphy at the end of  the french version of this post, Les Matadors de Marc Marie Joseph

[1] In the 19th century, the Matador is a polyandrous woman of character who enjoys a known independence. She is respected, feared and influential. She is appearance-conscious, domineering and maintained by several lovers.


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