In Hamburg with The Negro Avenged On Menzel’s Atelierwand In Madrid with Picasso’s Guernica
“like a tantalizing will-o’-the-wisp, maddening and misleading the headless host . . .” —W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
the actor, when he sees Füssli’s painting in his mind for the second time, thinks— yo body so black, ya mama can’t see ya
face. the woman clutching this semicentered and blackened male figure first stands out for the actor
due to her yellow-brown skin.
the moment before—a preternatural echo voicing the vibrato and distortion of two nearing white men—jars him slightly
from the Avenged Negro. the mulâtresse in her white dress and her unfurled, black hair long in the wind. almost blacker, the actor
notes, than the Negro’s blue-black skin. the disarmed torso of the Avenged disappears into the whipping
storm, as her one, reddish arm reaches and slaps a cackle of lightning. the left corner paints the suggestion of a body
of water—just as the actor finally notices the third figure, a darker brown onlooker. hooded, she appears with red, vaginal lips—
right of their feet—relocating time and the plateau, where these three figures find themselves
thrust upon. Füssli’s storm is a headache in the actor’s mind, a boulder rendering— a Black disappearing—nearly headless
and out of sight.