'Elisabeth - I Want To Eat'

by Mariken Wessels
Mariken Wessels, 2008

Publisher: Alauda Publications.

Dimensions: 24 cm x 33 cm

pages: 80

The photographs depict a young woman defiantly posing in front of the camera, both figuratively and literally exposing herself. The black and white photographs are worn out, frayed by numerous scratches and dust particles, blending together both the exaltation and melancholy recorded in them.


Apart from the photographs, the book carries a series of printed postcards and letters addressed to Elisabeth, from which the reader gradually infers that her life was thrown off track in some way. ‘Religion, order, discipline, detachment from the quest for ambition’ – these are, in brief, the ingredients of advice with which a family member proposes to ‘heal’ her. Yet the person giving her advice himself tells no straightforward story. One is in fact left wondering which of the two people is more bizarre.


There is a stark contrast in the book between the idyllic landscapes in the postcards painted in sweet watercolour and the disarming directness of Elisabeth’s gaze into the camera. The book contains thin colour-paper inserts on which the letters and postcards to Elisabeth almost transform into a direct appeal to the reader. The title of the publication is taken from the only letter in the book penned by Elisabeth herself, addressed to an unknown friend:

‘(...) The last time I saw you it was nice and I felt much better. Are you still in Brussels? I don’t know but I liked the house you lived and the streets there. I want to eat.’

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