Tuesdays Critical practice lecture was titled
‘ Abjection and formlessness: why does art bring us face to face with the un presentable? ‘ by Neil Hedger

The abject is socially unacceptable and can take any form. Bodily fluids are base materials.

the term ‘base materialism’ was introuduced by George Bataille during the late 1920s when he was part of the dadist/surrealist movement until a certain andre breton denounced him from the group.
i plan on reading his famous book ‘the language of flowers’ , it uses the life of a rose to grow from horse manure as a mega metaphor..very poetic.

Julia Kristeva is another important writer to Neil’s work. I have not researched her yet but she looked at the abject to be outside of the symbolic order and the individual was the site of liberation over the social

Pop life is currently on at Tate modern. One of Richard Prince’s prints was removed from public circulation. it is of a ten year old brook shields posing naked for playboy. we were shown and told this to establish that pedophilia is currently the biggest taboo in society. We then discussed how taboos are so localised and are time based. For example the photo of Brook shields was published in playboy in the 1970’s and now it cannot be shown in an art institution. So social controversies develop and disappear and move from different societies and cultures geographically.
Most abject work seems to be centralized in western societies. here are some more examples of abject artists –
paul mccarthy – Did a lot of performance rituals abusing domestic products, i.e tomato ketchup. watch ‘sauce’ (1974) here

Gilbert and George did things with base materials as part of their living sculpture performances. I highly reccomened checking out Sarah Lucas

We then discussed the audience and what is gained apart from Shock Value. The artists are manipulating media reporting of horrific things (tabloids) and adopting their methods to premote their art. Audiences will always want to be shocked and suprised and the media always will want to report on outrageous / obscene things. Abject art should make its audience flinch with uncomftablitity and try and push these safe social barriers.
But what is the social purpose of this kind of art? i would argue that the obscene and groteqsue can familarise make the public feel more comftable with these taboos are they can just dimiss it as cheap art. cheap as in it is a one trick pony. I think it is liberating for both the artist and the audience as it confronts these issues so directly you feel better when you look away.

The study of society and of common culture related to my work, because it all influences social relations and constructs this social behavior. This has been a theme in my work with my ‘construct a character’ project, anthropological interpretations of a localized group. Some abject art would not achieve full effect in more liberal areas, i think geography is very important in influencing and executing art.

One response to “abjection

  1. The latest most interesting abject art project I can think of is that Costa Rican artist that exhibited a dog tied up and given no food during the whole exhibition. The public was disgusting and shocked, there were a lot of protests and campaigns against him, condemning him immediately. He had found the starving dog on the streets, caught it and exhibited it for a day, with a sign saying ‘You are what you read.’ In response to the accusations of cruelty, the artist said that ‘there was no restraint against the gallery goers to feed the dog and yet no one did it.’
    Despite all the ethical issues on the artist’s side, and all the shock and sensitivity the audience might claim to have felt.. this abject act revealed a very ugly side of social behaviour and ultimately, I believe this is the main goal of abject art – to reveal social behaviour patterns shockingly and in the long run, promote change and social progress. Incidentally, kind of in the same lines as Fassbinder’s cinema.

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