Altars of the Invisible

Altars of the Invisible is a sculptural work in which I have torn apart, re-structured and compartmentalized an actual wedding dress. The front of the garment, transformed into doors capable of opening and closing to reveal or hide the interior of the dress and its objects.

The piece was partly inspired by the 13th century Portuguese altarpiece Virgem do Paraiso from Evoria, Sandy Orgel’s Linen Closet installation piece shown at the landmark Woman House in 1972, and in certain iconographic aspects by Maria, the robot provocateur turned goddess in Fritz Lang’s silent Metropolis, from 1927. The female body is stylized to form a series of compartments bearing all the items deemed necessary for a woman to thrive in today’s world. These objects, every woman’s interior trousseau, will reflect the multiple roles thrust upon women by culture, the media and women themselves—symbols of love, sex, careers, marriages, households, families and children.

Altars of the Invisible is a new millennium altarpiece for today’s women, who are still being told they can have it all if only they will try hard enough, and toward expressing the interior conflicts and cacophony having it all entails.

The title of the interior book is Adjusting to the Moon, with text by Stan Pinkwas. The text of the poem highlights the tensions and complexities in personal relationships using the context of a mariner navigating only by the light of the stars and the knowledge of his ship.

Adjusting for the Moon

She sleeps or she pretends to, her inert form mimicking mine, facing mine across the great divide

of bed, presiding sphinxlike in the hushed dark, motionless as the moon. She sleeps and she pretends to,

particle and wave inhabiting the selfsame space, the dream-deep trance her restless body like a body

of light casts aside, remembering all its absences and ills in a state of wakeful rest. When I hear her dreams,

which I can when they’re angry, and their known and keening demons turn to whispering among themselves,

she also turns, animate and unaware in our conspiracy of place, and faces away. Sometimes she holds me

and she doesn’t, her mind releasing what the heart attracts, travelling like the moon its own apparent width

from desire to indifference in an hour’s constant span, as if love’s winnowing, the pulling apart, were a cyclical event

begun only to be restored, endured only to be undone. Knowing and not, awake and not quite, adrift in the grip

of her iron arms, spent from the heat of a furious tryst, she is my source, my watch, my guide, time’s compass

through the ocean of night. Alone and never fully so, solitary together, lying like a mariner long ago

who might have searched for longitude by measuring the moon’s distance from the stars

before sailing recklessly on, rarely if ever getting it right, I close my eyes and watch for signs