Sophie Torres

Abject: something that causes breakdown in the symbolic realm (blurs the boundary between self and other, inside and outside, person and object). The ultimate abject object is the corpse, as it blurs the boundary between what is human and what is object, demonstrating the materiality and object-status of our own bodies (other examples of abject include blood, pus, vomit, rotting food, every other lovely thing under the sun). This is based off of Julia Kristeva’s definition of “abjection” that she established in her essay Powers of Horror.

Like most, if not all, of the other juniors in this show, I have been incredibly focused on writing my JP throughout this past year. As an Art History major, I have had the opportunity to research and focus on a specific artist, choosing the infamous Joel-Peter Witkin. I have been studying his work since the beginning of the year, ultimately focusing on the role of the abject maternal body and how it relates to Witkin’s narrative of the human experience. Of course, this has lead me to read multiple works focusing on the abject and maternal horror, including Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror and Barbara Creed’s Monstrous-Feminine. I have read a lot about the horror of the abject mother and how it threatens consumption, both literally (Vagina Dentata) and figuratively (think of how Norman Bates was ‘consumed’ by his mother in Psycho). Because of this I’ve been very focused on mouths, especially their role in the abject (the inside of the mouth is inherently abject, it is neither inside nor outside). My own fascination with this topic has definitely trickled into my work, most obviously in my first work Archaic but probably in all of them. If I truly wanted to explore the abject I would most likely have to think a lot more about materiality (this is an understatement but still), but, of course, this pandemic has limited my resources a bit.

Recently (or basically this past school year) I’ve been feeling really non-passionate (unpassionate? dispassionate? idk). I normally have a drive to make artwork and with this I have created things that I’m genuinely proud of and have liked. I have not really felt that this year, creating works that rely on provocation in order to distract from the flimsiness of the actual piece. This year has been difficult, not only because of the pandemic, but because I have been beginning to burn out and, of course, this has been really affecting me. Although I am proud of the effort I have put into all of my work, I’m feeling directionless and I’m not sure where to go with it. If anyone has any suggestions for direction PLEASE let me know, it would be greatly appreciated.

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