Ruth Rosengarten »

what if the baby were a map?

tache: noun: A mark, a strange impression that spoils something... Diderot and D’Alembert, Encyclopédie.

Piebald skin roughs up neat definitions (black/white).  Is it good luck to touch people with birthmarks? Superstition: ‘the longing mark’ as the materialisation of the pregnant woman’s unrealised cravings, a map of her desire. The child’s body mapping maternal desire, but all the body’s surface is also a personal history of things spoiled and fixed. Repetition, seriality, sameness and difference. Based on Georges Buffon’s engraving after Jacques de Sève, A Black Albino Child from L’Histoire de l’homme, 1749. How to think the intractable problems (aesthetic, dermatologic and above all racial and taxonomic) of the nègre blanc, and what is a marked body?


100 drawings, each in pen and ink and watercolour on 300g Arches paper, 295 x 205mm each, 1996.

Exhibited in solo show at Gadfly Gallery, Perth, Western Australia, 1997