Le Suicide Threat
1987 by Louise Bourgeois
Private Collection; seen at Louise Bourgeois, Tate 2007
Le Suicide Threat was at Tate’s Louise Bourgeois Retrospective exhibition. The expanse of work displayed was pleasingly overwhelming; spanning her artistic career, the works were incredibly diverse — sculpture, painting, huge models, womb like structures (The Destruction of the Father) and giant spiders prowled this imaginative space. Despite all this, I was particularly drawn to Le Suicide Threat for its simplicity and effectiveness. Curly pink writing articulates love yet, slightly haphazardly written, the words evoke childishness, a playful tone, which then becomes chilling as we realise that this is a threat. The romantic warmth of inky pink becomes suggestive — blood — as we take in the deadly point of the razor thin knife, drawn and left casually yet poignantly to the right. Two drops left above the weapon then reaffirm this deadly suggestion. The note is personal, emotional; hand-drawn the lettering becomes larger, messier, as it comes to the pressing ‘do you love me’, the question of the note, where the author has everything to lose. Sadly, growing with worry, it gathers momentum in size and doubt, without a question mark and signed – there is no shame in wondering – LB. Cleverly this piece is titled last, Le Suicide Threat written right at the bottom of the page, allowing naïve speculation from the beginning. Without knowing the title of the piece we may have all sorts of reactions to the note before we are told, in tiny gleeful writing, the purpose of it all at the end.