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Under this rubric, the ISP curators assembled a wildly heterogeneous group of works, organized in sections of “The Maternal Body,” “Unmaking Modernist Masculinity,” and “Transgressive Femininity.” In a brief glance over the exhibition’s selection of objects, the aesthetic porosity of abjection as an artistic descriptor becomes clear: work such as Arshile Gorky’s (1978) – which features an artist brandishing a bullwhip in his asshole – were gathered together in the name of exposing social dictums around proper and oppositely disregarded subjectivities.

The curators oscillated between degrees of referentiality, from abjection’s suggested presence to its direct citation: if Jackson Pollock’s (1974), which featured her infant son’s soiled diapers.

The organizing object of abject art, institutionally speaking, was , curated in the summer of 1993 by Craig Houser, Simon Taylor, and Leslie C.

As the curators stated in their catalogue’s introduction, “Employing methodologies adapted from feminism, queer theory, post-structuralism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis, our goal is to talk dirty in the institution and degrade its atmosphere of purity and prudery by foregrounding issues of gender and sexuality in the art exhibited.” As “abject art,” their curatorial neologism meant to describe an art that either utilized or commented on abjection, it would directly challenge normative notions of morality, cleanliness, decency, and invariably, identity.

writer and artist Rhonda Lieberman comments on a strange mnemonic sensation in seeing an art show about the recent past: “I knew a museum show about ‘NYC 1993’ would be creepy, I just didn’t know what kind of creepy …

When the nostalgia train hits a time when you were actually an adult, you palpably experience the constructedness of history.” Discrepancies emerge between Lieberman’s recollection of the 1993 New York artworld and the inevitably different equivalent on display.

Because, while releasing a hold, it does not radically cut off the subject from what threatens it.

On the contrary, abjection acknowledges it to be in perpetual danger.” Abjection is fundamentally an anxiety of proximity, of what constitutes the self and what does not.

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