Bourgeois's entire text for this project appears on the pages cited below.
Some of us are so obsessed with the past that we die of it. It is the
attitude of the poet who never finds the lost heaven and it is really
the situation of artists who work for a reason that nobody can quite
grasp. They might want to reconstruct something of the past to
exorcise it. It is that the past for certain people has such a hold and
such a beauty....
Everything I do was inspired by my early life.
On the left, the woman in white is The Mistress. She was introduced
into the family as a teacher but she slept with my father and she
stayed for ten years.
Now you will ask me, how is it that in a middle class family a
mistress was a standard piece of furniture? Well, the reason is that
my mother tolerated it and that is the mystery. Why did she?
So what role do I play in this game? I am a pawn. Sadie is supposed
to be there as my teacher and actually you, mother, are using me to
keep track of your husband. This is child abuse.
Because Sadie, if you don't mind, was mine. She was engaged to
teach me English. I thought she was going to like me. Instead of
which she betrayed me. I was betrayed not only by my father, damn
it, but by her too. It was a double betrayal. There are rules of the
game. You cannot have people breaking them right and left. In a
family a minimum of conformity is expected.
I am sorry to get so excited but I still react
Concerning Sadie, for too many years I had
been frustrated in my terrific desire to twist
the neck of this person.
Everyday you have to abandon your past or
accept it and then if you cannot accept it
you become a sculptor.
[At bottom of page:
The current retrospective of the work of Louise Bourgeois will remain at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until February 8, 1983.]
Publication excerpt from Louise Bourgeois, "Child Abuse: A Project by Louise Bourgeois." ARTFORUM (December 1982): pp. 40-47.