Abject art, always breaking taboos

Abject art, always breaking taboos
Isabel del Rio

Abject art, always breaking taboos. Whatever taboo.

In 1993, The Whitney Museum at New York organized and exhibition and gave the name to a movement fascinated for blood, animal carcasses, bodily fluids, corpses and everything considered taboo in our society. Carolee Schneeman, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick, Gilbert and George, Robert Gober, Kiki Smith and Jake and Dinos Chapman were all included in show.

Abject art, always breaking taboos. By Louise Bourgeois

Abject art, always breaking taboos. By Louise Bourgeois

The roots of the Abjection go back a long way. European religious art (even before the Renaissance) has been frequently captivated by blood and tortures and during the Baroque and the religious Counter, Catholic art used to paint terrible scenes of cruelty as a way of express piety and the nonsense of our life in this Earth. However, it wasn’t until the Dada avant-garde that transgression started to be important by itself. Afterwards, the films and performances of the Viennese

Abject art, always breaking taboos. By Damien Hirst

Abject art, always breaking taboos. By Damien Hirst

Actionists, (Hermann Nitsch, Gunter Brus, Otto Muehl…) involved publicly urinating and defecating and had a powerful influence on later Abject Art. Don’t forget that the development of performance art coincided with the radicalization of politics in the late 1960’s.

Punk rock and especially the performances of Genesis P. Orridge and GG Allin, which involved spit, urine, blood, semen and feces, are also a solid root of Abject Art.

Abject art, always breaking taboos. Chapmans_Goya_Disasters

Abject art, always breaking taboos. Chapmans_Goya_Disasters

But it will be the French philosopher and author Julia Kristeva who will define abjection and her book the “Powers of Horror, Essay about Abjection” (“Pouvoirs de l’horreur. Essai sur l’abjection”), led to a second wave of radical performance artists working with bodily fluids. For example, Ron Athey, Franko B, Lennie Lee and Kira O’ Reilly in the 80´s.

Then, Abject art refers to works which contain abject subjects, materials and substances and breaks through societal taboos, especially those surrounding sexuality, death or the slightest decorum.

Recently, YM has wrote about Damien Hirst and his like for skulls.

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