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Addressing Abject

Updated: Apr 10, 2019


The next artistic underpinning will be Artists who address Abject in their art.


What is Abject art?


The abject is a complex psychological, philosophical and linguistic concept developed by Julia Kristeva in her 1980 book Powers of Horror.


Kristeva introduced the idea of "abjection" as the basis of a fundamental differentiation between the self and non-self. So basically the Self and ‘The Other’


Abjection is a reaction to the confrontation with the "abject", triggered by disgust or phobia. This feeling have no object, you can’t touch it. And it does not belong to the self something triggers it. This is seen as a threat by the mind, which rejects it.


The word "abject" derives from the Latin word "abicere" (English: to throw away) and the French word "abject".



Surrealist art is seen as where Abject art is first apparent then Female artists made important contributions to Abject art, particularly in connection with feminist debates and an increased focus on the body.


Abject art is used to describe artworks which explore themes that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety particularly referencing the body and bodily functions

The term abjection literally means ‘the state of being cast off’.


Kristeva herself commented: ‘refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live’.


In practice the abject covers all the bodily functions, or aspects of the body, that are deemed impure or inappropriate for public display or discussion.


The abject has a strong feminist context, in that female bodily functions in particular are ‘abjected’ by a patriarchal social order. They felt rejected. In the 1980s and 1990s many artists became aware of this theory and reflected it in their work.


This is a topic I find fascinating and identify with. The ‘Other’ is a very intriguing topic because we don’t know what is on the other side or perhaps in many case we know far too well what it is.

Tonight’s image is of Cindy Sherman’s Trace Photographic series and will be the focus tomorrow.



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