Thursday, May 11, 2006


74 daddy tattoo woman.jpg

It's been 2 years since I last saw Monique, the above shot was the last time I saw her. I have thought about her quite a bit, I obviously look at her image a lot. So I saw her at 7th and Wolf, about 3 blocks away from my new studio. She had beaten, her jaw had been broken and her eye was almost swollen shut. As we were talking I wasn't sure if the man who had beaten her was a pimp or a boyfriend or her father or more than one of those because she referred to him as "Daddy." I thought I didn't hear her correctly and it's because her tattoo says "Daddy" and that seemed impossible that the man who beat her was "Daddy." This was just so fucking horrible it was almost impossible to believe. Even standing there and listening, it was like a dream, it's so devastating and so unimaginable, whether it's figuratively or literally. The pervasive misogyny in our world is beyond my scope.

She couldn't get a date because of the eye and was jittery and anxious. She didn't remember me, but she did know that her photo had been in Elle, although she thought it was Cosmopolitan. Her sister was reading it and then was like, "Mom, that's Monique!" and they were really happy about it. I told her that the photo was in the Whitney.

Monique said something that I can't get out of my head. When I approached her, I couldn't see how badly she had been beaten. I could see she had been hurt, but her hair covered the whole side of her face and I thought it could have been from a fall until I saw her eye. When I stopped and asked if she remembered me and if could I take her photo, she said something like can we do it in the car, my Daddy's right over there. I was confused and then I turned and looked, I didn't see him and before I could answer, she cleared for a second and said, oh right pictures, and then brightened up a little. We talked for a few minutes and I took the photos. She was into making the photos with me and talking about what she had been doing and she was interested in showing me her face and talking about how she can't get a date. I said thanks and then she asked me for money, anything I could give her, a bag was 10 dollars. And then she said, "I'll do anything. I'll do anything." I gave her 10 dollars because the thought of having to do anything is just so horrible I will never get it out of my mind. I have seen some difficult things, in my work and in my life, but I have never heard someone say "I'll do anything" and mean it. It's one of the worst things I've ever heard.

I went back and forth about making the photos. I wanted to make the pictures with her because she was interested. But there's no photo that can tell this. And I wanted to make sure she really wanted to make the pictures, which she did. The photo below has a unreal quality while being direct, which was how our whole interaction was.

I wish Monique the best; I wish her health and happiness and I'm rooting for her to move her life out of the difficult circumstances that she's in right now.

monique showing black eye web
Monique Showing Black Eye

monique on steps web
Monique on Steps


roberta said...

unbelievable. I had no idea it was Monique. wow, Zoe. thanks for sharing all that. It's deeply moving.

piu piu said...

thats really scary stuff. poor monique

Anonymous said...

sometimes there's comfort in having a wittness

Anonymous said...

After reading your comments/story about running into monique again it seemed to me your work is neither expoitive nor judgemental. I confess, I am often suspicious of artist's motives when their work centers on the less fortunate among us. Your work strikes me as sympathetic. I'm new to your work; I like it a lot. It's gritty but hmane and formally very elegant.

Kaz Maslanka said...

very moving thanks

Anonymous said...

Found your blog by accident during a search for tattoos, I sure hope
Monique has found a better life situation by this time.
These kinds of things make me want
to end her abuser's ability to abuse.