The definition of abject art on the Tate website notes, “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 definition on the Keterrer Kunst website begins by stating, “Abject art is an art form associated with Material and Object art, and refers to works, which contain abject subjects, materials and substances.” Julia Kristeva posited the term abject in her essay on abjection Powers of Horror first published in French in 1980 and English in 1982. She introduces abjection as “Loathing an item of food, a piece of filth, waste, or dung.” (2PH). Most contemporary artists working with abjection focus on the human body, often their own as Performance art or Body art became a common way for artists to actively assimilate the abject in front of an audience.
I have an exhibition on in the Foyer Gallery of the School of Art this week.
It consists of 20 raw shrouds stretched onto wooden frames and sized with rabbit skin glue and a shroud in process outside featuring a magpie. My artist statement:
The decomposition print or shroud is a bodily stain that captures the rapid breaking down of the body after death. This is a process shared by human and non-human animals reminding us of our mortality and animality. Rotting flesh is repulsive to our sensory organs and taboo in our hypoallergenic society. The notion of the abject or abhorrent in art challenges our distinction between object and subject. An object is perceived as a thing used for a purpose, a subject is one who has agency and rights we can identify with. The representation of animals is a contentious issue at a time when the modern perception of animal as object is being challenged. In my work I experience the assimilation of the abject, the rancid object, a dead body, becomes a subject as I capture the essence of individual disintegrating forms and present them in a painting format to be venerated.