Abjection in Theory and Art

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.

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