In this paper I read Mark Quinn’s Self series (1991–2011) is from an aesthetic perspective on the materiality of things. This series, which critically considers the problem of the self (Ego), is linked to ontological questions of abjection such as otherness, objectivity, and the emotion of disgust. In particular, the use of blood and its materiality deconstructs dichotomies such as life/subject and matter/object, and expresses conditions of subjectification from the inevitable dependence on others. The works represent Quin’s own Ego through a frozen head of blood. The works are embodied in typical forms of sculpture, creating an atmosphere different from that of the abject—art which appeals to strong intension of disgust. The Self elicits a vague feeling of ‘weak’ disgust and so suggests a new interpretation of the ‘vagueness of existence’.
This representation by blood is ultimately possible only from a continuous reliance on abjective matter, the materiality of the extracted blood, the freezing systems, cooling silicon material, and so on. For the reason of this dependence from a ‘relational ontology’, Quin expresses his variable self-identity rather than as a solid entity. In the Self series, we come to understand the fluid co-existed life, not the solidified, isolated life. In the relational-ontological horizon, our lives meet the faces of many things that inevitably are connected with ourselves.