MARIKEN WESSELS: “Elisabeth – I Want to Eat” (2010)


August 17, 2011

Dear Edward,

I am much better now.
I am in Hospital, but I think
I can go out soon, maybe.
I want to see you but you
are not in Holland.
Can you come please.
I want to see you.
I’m missing people all the
time and I miss you.
How are you.
Are you okay. The last time
I saw you it was nice and
I felt very much better.
Are you still living in Brussels.
I don’t know but I liked the
house you lived and the
streets there.
I want to eat.

The girl is acting happy while inside she is cut down the middle – split in two like a piece of withered paper that has been cut carefully up the center and then pressed flat in an effort to remove the creases.

Monday, 1 May ’72

Dear Elisabeth. Darling, as you can imagine M. and I were often thinking of you. Tonight I wondered why it is you feel so lonely. You aren’t friendly in yourself, you don’t entirely focus on the other person, talk about what he or she would like to talk about, you don’t give of yourself with your intelligence and your good heart, make things fun with a little joke without romance and sentimentality, you refuse to care until you know someone really well and know whether they actually need you. We’re here to help other people, always and everywhere, with our atmosphere of quiet, of friendship. Not wanting to excel in anything. Look for an ordinary little job to make a living for yourself, be interested in everything that goes on our planet while we’re here, which seems a long time when you’re young, but rushes by as you get older. Without contradicting, make your own thoughts clearly understandable to others. Everything will be all right, provided you can restrain your feelings, your harsh opinions and witty remarks; the medicines that you were prescribed for you can help. Ciao, A. Hans


There she sits, naked and looking at the camera – touching her breasts and smiling while moving her body. Her stretch marks and large areolas look back as she poses for him.

Dear Elisabeth. I’m really sorry that I didn’t say yes to your sensible suggestion to look after yourself downstairs. That was the solution. We got on each other’s nerves but instead of just quietly leaving the room you start to swear, throw things and kick. What do you achieve by it?? It’s a breach of the peace. The police have to be called, who usually know what do do to calm things down, cell, hospital, injections. Don’t be cocky, and above all put others before yourself. Will put what you don’t need in your bank account, Ciao, A. Hans

Now she is melting, everyone is against her. He told her she was pretty and perfect before, why? They are all like knives now, cutting her. And they are like acid, touching and burning her skin.

She won’t make it. It was once the beginning but now, it is the end.

Mariken Wessel’s stunning book, Elisabeth – I want to eat. (2010, Alauda Publications), is a tour inside the mind – relentless and dark, heart wrenching, beautiful and complex. Made with a box of found photographs from a shop in Amsterdam and put together with sophistication and maturity, a lesson is here. “Material” is out there in the world to be used, one can go inside or outside, the possibilities now are endless. A “world” can be created out of a box, limits are not really present… if they are, the only limit is you.


Doug Rickard

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