All works pictured by Eurydice Kamvyselli, Fabric, hand stitched mobiles using hand-dyed thread on over lapping sheets and cut-outs of plexiglass suspended with fishing lines from the ceiling.
The work is created to present the female body as the see-through frame of all we see: the free the stitch from fabric &enable each stitch to float in space, in hanging suspense. All works conceived and created by Kamvyselli.
by Eurydice Eve
As a man is, So he Sees. As the Eye is formed, such are its
powers.- William Blake
Right after my girly body sprouted breasts & pubes, I was severed into two new selves that grew out of me like Hydra’s snake-heads: the inner Demon-Animal who drove my new body’s wants & the outer Sex Object to whom most men responded with strutting poses & deafening catcalls or with insinuating double-talk & excessive one-on-one attention, mistaking my silence & shame & terror for consent. The good-student-daughter Madonna self I had inhabited until then, had no idea that we are each a multiplicity of selves & she was shocked & horrified by the brand new lustful instincts that activated the two new, urgent selves. & as she tried to make sense of all the changes, she retreated into nonexistence, subsumed by even newer, more aberrant Me’s that grew out of me when I tried to choke the urges that made me sway my hips & shake my ass or fantasize about naked women while touching my labia which I called ‘my thing’ because I didn’t know a word for it, just like I didn’t know I had a clitoris & didn’t know the word ‘masturbation,’ & didn’t know that it was something done by other people on the planet besides me. I didn’t know what had possessed me but I did know I didn’t intend to ever divulge this secret compulsion to anybody. I didn’t know what I was doing with my ‘thing,’ what brought on the urge & what ended it with me moaning breathless & spent in my bed, vowing that this would be the last time, worried that if I got caught, my parents, who didn’t even allow closed doors in the house, would kill me. Not metaphorically. It was sex that first clarified for me my foundational split & my female blinders.
Despite all that, masturbation became the compromise reached by my new, unfamiliar & demonically possessed selves. In the unspeakable, indescribable, prelingual space of self-ecstasy, I 1. male-gazed at my own semi-naked, erotically posed body, 2. I man-zoomed in on my soft curves & swelling orifices arranged so they would peek out from my sheets, 3. I man-fingered my aroused holes & man-touched my softest tissues until they were wet enough that I orgasmed. I wouldn’t have traveled the transition from ‘they’ to ‘I’ in any capacity that didn’t qualify as madness if I wasn’t already high off my mind with prelingual, prelogical lust. But I did leap from thinking ‘they’ re: my erogenous parts to ‘I’ re: my erogenous release. & during orgasm, I felt the bliss of self-unification. So I knew that Oneness was possible, if only in the forbidden space of Sin during those concluding seconds when I rode the arc of self-satiety wanting to feel whole.
Since the pleasure was much stronger than the terror of exposure, I could not stop seeking that freedom from self & world that lifted me into blissful wholeness every time my parents fell asleep. Right after my orgasm, my body still microspasming & my eyes still blurry & crossed, lying in the dark blessedly emptied of my chaotic inner contents, listening to my heart pound violently against my rising & falling ribcage, I would count the seconds of relief I would get before the oddness of being me, & especially this new reckless me, kicked back in. I began to wonder back then if this new self was my birthright as a Lesbian, if Lesbian which in every vernacular meant pervert instead of woman born on Lesbos, signified a rebel Being.
In those liminal minutes when I was not yet quite myself as society knew me--daughter, student, churchgoer, school president, reader, good or best friend--but was no longer the female animal I became when my? Hunger took over, I would review the process of my transformation. Knowing nothing of hormonal spikes or the mechanics of the female anatomy & reproductive organs, I experienced arousal as the agony of a human turning into a werewolf under the lunar influence. I was mystified by the power of the Beast? that took over me. I realized that the process began with me becoming male, & objectifying/disrespecting my little body with the intense pornographic fetishization of my? male libidinal drive. I deduced that my mind was fucking my body. Yes, my mind would turn my body into my? own sex object, until my body would loosen its bond to my mind & jolt into orgasms. In the postcoital contemplative state, I understood that my body wasn’t represented by my mind. Even though mine was the only mind that controlled & directed my body, there was a disconnect. An open chasm. An irreparable dichotomy. A border that could not be crossed between self & beast, I & me. Knowing that my body was female, I concluded that my mind was male. Even though I had no feminist vocabulary, I sensed that my ‘I’ was male & that therefore every ‘I’ was male; that the formative logos with all its laws & mores was male, created by men to protect men from women like me.
One of the overnight changes that overcame me as I hit adolescence was the sudden awareness that I had always identified with Dad & looked down on Mom as designated rep of the needy ‘women-&-children’ group, which was what Dad called her & my sister to separate their domestic world from our intellectual one. I had been brainwashed to think like Dad & yet, unlike Dad, I wasn’t free to make any decision for myself & had to depend on him to. I had to ask for his permission for everything I did, & for forgiveness every night before I kissed his hand & went to bed. My new curves had taken him aback as much as they had me & were making him nervous &, when I wasn’t in his house, paranoid. He watched me physically transform into a desirable nymphet & he felt me pull away from him emotionally & mentally, & quietly shift my political, philosophical, aesthetic views as far away from his as I could get away with. Up to then I had espoused & eloquently mimicked his ideas & felt empowered by our emotional incest that elevated me to the place of his consort in public outings. Dad would show off to his friends & superiors my ability to recite the Odyssey by memory, my knowledge of every Greek historical date & description, the articulate answers that I could give to any question before any audience. I now understood why I had never felt any pride or accomplishment. I understood why I felt like a dancing bear at the circus, like Venus of Hoggentot. Thanks to my sudden sexual uprising, I now understood that I felt as an impostor & a fraud when I expressed myself because I was always using borrowed intel & borrowed language. I understood that I felt vacant & insincere--as if I might as well be anyone at any time, as if I lacked a solid core & a baseline of truth--because no truth was mine. Because when I said ‘I,’ it was a euphemism. I understood that I had taken on the identity of my oppressor & I had no other way in or out, no other way to belong to the world. I had no other way to be sexually active & whole.
My sexuality made clear to me the degree to which we women have no place of our own in the world. When we women succeed, we do it by thinking like men & by advocating for patriarchy, whether we realize it or not. We objectify our own bodies to attract men or we male- gaze at them as if we were porn in order to get off on them, because we can only see eroticism & beauty through the male gaze. It is the gaze behind every piece of art or devotion or advertising. We have no choice but to pimp ourselves to ourselves for our personal pleasure & to our lovers for our joint pleasure. Patriarchy has trained our (male) gaze to view the natural-born female nude as pornography. The (male) gaze turns the naked (female) body into an object of pornographic lust that exists primarily to be claimed & possessed, manhandled & penetrated to the point of impregnation, which is the ultimate male reward (that womb is mine), just like the (male) logos, 3000 yrs ago, turned the Lesbian woman poet Sappho into the first lesbian, a debauched practitioner of a deranged species betrayal, which justified burning & banishing her work before it could undermine the dominant discourse. Language (the logos which was in the beginning of civilization) is male. Every word, every meaning, every custom, every law, every moral value, every habit, every belief & superstition, every feeling & genetic code have been defined, described, & mediated by patriarchy in a myriad ways that guarantee its perpetuation.
I realized that the gender divide between the ‘real me’ I was born as & ‘interpreter me’ that translated me to myself, to everyone else, & to the world at large was so vast that it might as well be the river Styx that separated the world of the living from the world of the dead. I didn’t have access to these words back then in my native Greek, but I understood this impasse & this prison. I understood this despair & this pain. I understood that we women don’t have an ‘I’ & therefore we don’t have an individual identity. We exist in mass gender dysphoria.
In the next installment, I will explain why I now think the female gaze is the third eye gaze.