The Libidinal Canapé: A Short Story Inspired by Dorothea Tanning’s “A Rainy-Day Canapé”

This encounter took place on a quiet, rainy Sunday afternoon. Mother, as she was later to describe the event to me, had entered the living room, clad in a sky-grey pantsuit and donning the usual tight white bun at the nape of her stalwart neck. It was here that the nude object had confronted her. A tumescent protuberance, it had obliquely squatted there in the center of the room, occupying a spot on the oak flooring that theretofore had been known only to hold sunlight, a drowsy cat, or an occasional dust particle. In any case, Mother assured me that she had never encountered this lobulate phenomenon before.

Yet here it was, transgressing her habitat, a humus-hued deformation somewhat resembling a pregnant sofa or an engorged boa constrictor.

“What are you?” Mother had croaked hoarsely, when she had gotten over her initial shock. “Are you a sentry, conjured here by the maledictions of a demented wizard?” Fingering the object’s rough, earthy woven fabric, Mother had suddenly been engulfed by a libidinal force more powerful than any she had ever before reveled in. She had wanted more than anything to be enveloped by the creamy canapé, to be enshrouded in its cavity, engulfed by its enticing existence. Her desire had transported her to titillating dimensions.

“I am simply a rainy-day canapé,” the object had insisted, its voice matter-of-fact as tree bark. “Do not fetishize me, upright lady, simply recline appropriately upon my seat and be contented. I have appeared here in order to suffocate your corrosive boredom.”

Mother, salivating, had undressed herself and tenderly lunged into the fistulate lap of the embracing sofa. The canapé had presumably dilated and swelled around her reveling form. By the time I entered the room it was already too late. The piece de resistance had entirely straight-jacketed and digested Mother, who now existed only as a dark, effluviate mass on the living room floor. I am left to record her barely perceptible mumblings as she fades into obsessive dementia, entombed forever by the swollen canapé.

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About Maureen Burdock

Maureen Burdock was born in the Black Forest in Germany and grew up being enchanted and awed by fairy tales, witches, and magical landscapes. At the same time, her family often told stories of the war years, making her acutely aware of a divided Germany. Burdock arrived in Chicago at age seven, where she learned to navigate a foreign environment and language with the help of teachers, books, and art. Drawing, painting and writing became both communication tools and psychological means for survival. As she matured, the artist used these tools to understand her own identity and the world at large. Burdock’s current work still incorporates narrative and visual elements to probe deeply into her psyche and to explore societal divisions and disconnections. Since 2006, Burdock has been creating a series of graphic novels that deal with gender-based violence around the world. Most recently, she has been working on an animated short film. She continues to incorporate both elements of magic and political awareness into her work. Burdock currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is working on an MFA in studio practice and an MA in Visual Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She facilitates Laydeez do Comics San Francisco, a comics forum weighted towards women creators, which originated in the UK. Burdock has won several awards for her graphic novel work, including high commendation by the global Freedom to Create International Competition and top prize in the Judy Chicago/Through the Flower, Feminist Artists Under Forty Competition. The artist has received critical acclaim by diverse reviewers, including articles in Marie Claire, Mumbai, India; Strip, Copenhagen, Denmark; and the online publications Lamp Project and Art Animal. She has published reviews and articles in publications and catalogs such as Graphic Novel Reporter, Art Practical, and WomanHouse v.4.0 Catalog. Several gender studies and world literature professors have adopted Burdock’s graphic novels for their classrooms, and McFarland will publish an anthology of the F Word Project in 2014. Burdock continues to exhibit her work in gallery and museum venues, and is looking forward to an exhibition of the art for her current book, Mumbi & the Long Run, at Space Station 65 Gallery in London in 2014.
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