Thoughts of a repulsive side to the work arose from group crit 23/02/21. Reflection 18/04/21: And even more so from my 1-1 with Matt on the 15/04/21 – violence, destruction and abjection. The imagery of individual breasts being in a place where food is prepared/consumed/cooked, suggests what is done to food may be done to breasts. There’s this tone where they’re desirables/consumption for men, but with this comes the dark tone of the clay breasts creating this imagery of being real, raw flesh being eaten by men. In my opinion there’s some mode of abjection present.
Reflection 20/05/21: After my final group crit 19/05/21, Srin mentioned Moving in and around To Bite B&W Repeat in the studio has the ‘affect and abject’ come together. I liked this. It’s been apparent my work has aspects of abject in but it falls more thoroughly with causing an affect through the abject of the mouth eating the breast. Artist such as Dali and Brunel’s Un Chien Andalou were mentioned addressing the uncomfortable.
18/04/21: Consumption, mouth and breast become a rather uneasy approach to the female form, especially when the consumption is done by male. Currently I am projecting these to trial for the exhibition proposal and creating unusual spaces which make you feel surrounded.
Within my dissertation I am currently analysing how there is a range of modes of abjection in artists work like Maclean’s Make Me Up there’s more this mode of abjection where watching too much of the film it disgusts you, see above, and with Cousins Finger, see below, the visual of a menstrual blooded flower suggesting a vagina shows the ‘real’ of what comes with a female body. It brings the ‘grotesque’ and the natural into the picture which is often forgotten about when we imagine the ‘idealised’ female form.
Abjection = “threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety particularly referencing the body and bodily functions” (Tate, n.d.) , an actual breast shouldn’t be eaten and the fact the imagery/placement of the space conveys this weird thought it suggests within my work there is a mode of abjection is at play. However, even though this mode in my work isn’t as visually horrifying and bodily fluid covered like Sherman’s Grotesque series, the imagery and thought is enough to create these disturbed reactions that were present with my peers.
Reflection 10/05/21: Upon reflection of my formative assessment with Jane, I have mentioned Hal Foster many times within my blogs but haven’t gone further as I felt I wasn’t ready to understand, however now I am and above I mention Sherman’s grotesque series. It was Foster who acknowledges her swift changes from Untitled Film Still #2, to where “deidealization is pushed to the point of desublimation: with scarred sacks for breasts and funky carbuncles for noses, these bodies break down the upright lines of proper representation, indeed of proper subjecthood” (Foster, 1996, p 111), in “Obscene, Abject and Traumatic”, Sherman appears “the maternal body made strange, even repulsive, in repression” (Foster, 1996, p111), exploiting the true natural elements of the body to the viewers in a way we don’t like or often see. “This body is the primary site of the abject as well, a category of (non)being defined by Julia Kristeva” (Foster, 1996, p 111), I have discussed Kristeva further below where she suggests the abject with the natural being a terror as artists like “Sherman evokes these extreme conditions in some disaster scenes suffused with signifiers of menstrual blood and sexual discharge, vomit and shit, decay and death.” (Foster, 1996, p 111) to accentuate these visuals in Untitled #190 which she used civil war and sex images as her inspiration, see below.
Foster talks about the obviousness of these images, they are extreme and “where it is invaded by the gaze, to the recent work, where it is obliterated by the gaze” (Foster, 1996, p 112), it becomes so hard to look at. “Sometimes the screen seems so torn that the object-gaze not only invades the subject-as-picture but overwhelms it.” (Foster, 1996, p113), they become almost too much to look at. I have this similar approach within To Bite B&W Repeat to the extent of different abjection, more of a disturbance and this unusual pairing of the body food and the body.
In Are You Watching?, is it becomes quite scary and uneasy as my film Consuming 2 was put as a food for thought for this exhibition, as you watch you see where my work has become more sculptural and less performative in the kitchen space. I think Consuming 2 has more peculiar qualities as you actually see the male biting into the breast, yet it is a white icing breast, no tonality and no realism to it. Whereas with the clay breasts displayed in the kitchen appear life like and this deeps this thought of them being eaten as real flesh breasts. Cousins and Maclean bring back this reality where the real effects of the body can be lost by its appearance – this is what I have done by forcing the viewers to see the male gazes’ approach to the form and how it’s so wrong.
The pink pretty light/party like feel in Are You Watching? could be a way of glamorising what is actually happening to women in society/male gaze – women being consumed.
06/04/21: Recently I have contrasted the glamorisation of abjection. Women being consumed has been redirected through Sweet Tooth B&W, I have taken to this new approach by eliminating the colour, using cellophane to almost show this desirable like ideal of consumption in a treat/sweet way with the aggressive chomping of a soft breast. Explores this uncomfortable grotesque act of abjection.
!!!!!! Reflection 10/05/21: Upon reflection from my formative assessment 06/05/21, Jane suggested to refer to the primary text of “Powers of horror; an essay on abjection” by Julia Kristeva. Kristeva suggests we first experience abjection when we separate with our mothers. She includes Freud and Lacan’s research but writes “It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order” (Kristeva, 1980, p 4), abjection is oddly unnatural, even though it is all about showing the ugly side of the natural we all don’t want to see. It’s the unusual/grotesque which is present within my recent works for the exhibition proposal. Especially in relation to the female form and the male mouth under the ideas of pornography. There enters sexual control, to a point we don’t want to visually see.
“Abjection, on the other hand, is im- moral, sinister, scheming, and shady: a terror that dissembles,* a hatred that smiles, a passion that uses the body for barter instead of inflaming it, a debtor who sells you up, a friend who stabs you.” (Kristeva, 1980, p 5), Kristeva talks about abjection being a terror that dismembers, this made me think immediately of Sweet Tooth B&W and To Bite B&W Repeat, to see a breast dismembered sitting on its own in the males mouth. There is already this dismembered feeling before the breast is viciously chewed, it becomes worse and worse and the film develops. Interesting to see this relation to which the abjection, which is the terror in this instance, taking place as the male mouth. From this, Kristeva mentions that “from the start, fear and object are linked” (Kristeva, 1980, p 33), especially with To Bite B&W Repeat, the breast shares the objectification and the fear of what is happening next.
“There is fear and fascination. The body (of the ego) and the (sexual) object are completely absorbed in it. Abjection—at the crossroads of phobia, obsession, and perversion—shares in the same arrangement.” (Kristeva, 1980, p 45) these are contrasting words placed together to explore the meaning of abjection and the fascination is that is suggested speaks to the sexual objectification present in the film, of the breast being the main show, where the viewers are forced to watch it become chewed and destroyed over and over. Many have described the film to have this fascination quality where you can’t look away. This invites the abjection into the film – the being disturbed/unsettled/disgusted but continue to watch.
Lastly Kristeva writes “Freud discusses it at length in connection with taboo, totemism, and more specifically with food and sex prohibitions.” (Kristeva, 1980, p 57) regarding the way food and sex is spoken about immediately invites this disturbance when they are placed together. Kristeva talks about how food is “surrounded with a series of taboos” (Kristeva, 1980, p 75) prior to being paired with sex/body. I pieced an icing breast as food, with the mouth of a male prior to thinking of their pairing in this regards which has allowed for lots of different outlooks, research and approaches.