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The Abject "Somatic Symptom" and Artistic Sublimation in Women’s Art

LeeMoonJung 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

A male body was set on the basis of gender differences in the most of the patriarchal society and other characteristics of the female body were categorized. The men's domination and discrimination over women were justified by this basis. Female artists have been trying to criticize and overcome the dichotomous logic of patriarchy which has made the body of women to be objectified and oppressed. In this process, some of women artists put women's body and the workings of them that have been dismissed ugly and despised to the forefront. Also, they combine disgusting and cruel images here. These attempts are closely related to Julia Kristeva's theory of abject. Diverse aspects of abject that mean something dirty, low and disgusting neither the subject nor the target which threat to clear identity, system and order standing in the border of the subject and the object are done the most active in the body-flesh, the mother-women area. The typical way of control and sublimation to the threat and ambiguity of abject in the society is an art. The works of art from Kiki Smith, Hannah Wilke and Ana Mendieta discussed in this paper have significance of feminism because their works have an implementation of a new female identity with the liberation and the subject from the targeted images of women those were reproduced in art. The combination of abject and women of flesh leads to the society of diversity coexisted to recover the value of women that has been considered to be humble and to criticize the problems of a patriarchal society. Also, if the ‘somatic symptom’ of abject is sublimated artistically, new aesthetic categories are created by showing images and behaviors those do not conform to the symbolic order,stereotypes and social norms. As a result, ‘somatic symptom’ of abject appeared in the art of women leads dichotomous world to think as an open structure not closed. Also, that dismantles the imbalanced power of uniformity dividing gender, race, mind and body, human and nature, civilization and raw, high and low grade, normal and abnormal, beauty and ugliness oppositively and guides us the new world that pluralism coexisted.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.