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Abject VisionsPowers of Horror in Art and Visual Culture$
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Rina Arya and Nicholas Chare

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096280

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096280.001.0001

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Abjection, art and bare life

Abjection, art and bare life

Chapter:
(p.14) 1 Abjection, art and bare life
Source:
Abject Visions
Author(s):

John Lechte

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719096280.003.0002

In this essay John Lechte develops the idea of the abject as beyond objectification. Grounding his argument in Immanuel Kant’s conception of the beautiful as that which has no concept, Lechte asks if there can really be an art of the abject given the concept’s elusive status. He answers this question through an analysis of the film Sombre(Dir. Philippe Grandrieux, France, 1998). For Lechte, the abject “represents” a radical immanence. Abject art is therefore art that takes the non-object as its object. Grandrieux’s films, through their chiaroscuro cinematography, comprise works in which the medium of film appears to be foregrounded. The sombre lighting makes objects difficult to discern. This has led some commentators to contend that Grandrieux brings the materiality of film to the screen. Lechte, however, argues that materiality is always already screened, barred from us, by the very process of signification that seeks to capture it. In this light, if there is an abject element to Sombreit can only ever be evoked rather than clearly represented for to represent it would be to abolish it.

Keywords:   Sombre (Dir. Philippe Grandrieux), Kantian aesthetics, Abjection, Materiality of film, The non-object, French cinema, Julia Kristeva

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