The Broken Body: Abjection
“A wound with blood and pus, or the sickly, acrid smell of sweat, of decay, does not signify death. In the presence of signified death - a flat encephalograph, for instance - I would understand, react, or accept. No, as in true theater, without makeup or masks, refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live. These body fluids, this defilement, this shit are what life withstands, hardly and with difficulty, on the part of death. There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being.”
- Julia Kristeva in Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection
Rona Pondick, Mouth, 1992 - 1993 (detail).











Body Politics

  • Taking the lead of the feminists, artists continue to recognize the body as a political site
  • Examine the diseased, flawed, victimized and ignored body
  • Countered the modernist focus on abstraction and the objectification of the nude
  • Problematized the assumption that both the artist and the viewer are white male heterosexuals
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #175, 1987.











Cindy Sherman, Untitled #177,  1987.











1980 - 1986 The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

Nan and Brian in Bed

Nan Goldin, Nan and Brian in Bed, 1983.





















Nan One Month After Being Beaten
Nan Goldin, Nan One Month After Being Battered, 1984.
Nan Goldin, Heart Shaped Bruise, 1984.











Robert Morris, Untitled (Corner Prop), 1964.
Felix Gonzales Torres, Untitled (Corner of Baci), 1990.











"Bourgeois' work is a meditation on the past, and also a release of anger - chiefly, it seems from her own account, anger about a blocked and frustrated childhood, the sadistic teasing to which she was subjected by an anglophile father, and (most of all) the presence in her childhood home of her father's mistress."

- Edward Lucie - Smith
Louise Bourgeois, The Destruction of the Father, 1974.











"In Louise Bourgeois' work, we are often faced with the presence of subjects who desire, and who desire sexually. They are not immediate figures of desire but they position themselves clearly as operations of desire. Bourgeois' vengeance on the constraints of the 'wish to know' is to create the disorder of the forbidden. The right to know is my birth right." - Edward Lucie-Smith

Louise Bourgeois, Fillette (Little Girl), 1968.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Louise Bourgeois, 1982.





















Rona Pondick, View of Mouth in site-specific installation, Jose Friere Fine Art, New York, 1992 - 1993.
Rubber teeth, plastic, nipples, and flax, 600 unique elements, each approximately 3 x 5 x 2 ¾ inches (7.62 x 12.7 x 7 cm).











Robert Gober, Untitled, 1989 - 1990.











Kiki Smith, Untitled, 1986.
Kiki Smith, Untitled, 1986. (detail)












Janine Antoni, Loving Care, 1992.











Janine Antoni, Chocolate and Lard Gnaw, 1992.
600 lbs. of chocolate and 600 lbs. of lard before biting











Janine Antoni, Lipsticks and Candy Box, 1992.
Chocolate boxes and lipsticks on display











“[The abject] is simply a frontier, a repulsive gift that the Other, having become alter ego, drops so that the ‘I’ does not disappear in it but finds, in that sublime alienation, a forfeited existence.”
- Julia Kristeva in Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection
Kiki Smith, Tale, 1992.











Kiki Smith, Pee Body, 1992.
Kiki Smith, Train, 1993.











Robert Gober, Untitled, with Hanging Man / Sleeping Man Wallpaper, 1989 - 1996.
Silk satin, muslin, linen, tulle, welded steel, hand-printed silkscreen on paper,
cast hydrostone plaster, vinyl acrylic paint, ink, and graphite.
Dimensions variable, approximately 800 square feet installed.












Catherine Opie, Self-Portrait, 1993.











Perverse Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait Nursing

Asstd. definitions of "pervert" =
to lead astray morally
to turn away from the right course
to turn to an improper use; misapply
to bring to a less excellent state; vitiate; debase
pathology, to change to what is unnatural or abnormal
Catherine Opie, Self-Portrait/ Pervert, 1994.
Catherine Opie, Self-Portrait Nursing, 2004.











Catherine Opie, Oliver in a Tutu, 2004.