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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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Juan Davila’s abject after-image

Juan Davila’s abject after-image

(p.71) 4 Juan Davila’s abject after-image
Abject Visions

Rex Butler

A. D. S. Donaldson

Manchester University Press

Building on the theories of Julia Kristeva and Slavoj Žižek, Rex Butler and A. D. S. Donaldson explore how debates about modernism and postmodernism are played out in the work of Chilean-Australian artist Juan Davila. The abject assumes a central role in these debates as it cannot be equated either with the medium or the message of art. It falls outside polarising arguments over the privileging of surface or subject matter. The abject is not present in Davila’s paintings. It cannot become their subject given its quality as a non-object. The abject is rather that which resists becoming subject. It refuses to be made to matter as a subject because it refuses objectification. It is, however, not a simple matter. It is a kind of arrested or abeyant signification: it occupies the gap between matter and meaning. Butler and Donaldson show how Davila works within this gap exploiting the abject’s slipperiness in his recent pictures as a means to intervene in contemporary aesthetic disputes about the role of the medium in art.

Keywords:   Juan Davila, Julia Kristeva, Slavoj Žižek, Abjection and postmodernism, Australian art, Aesthetics and Politics, Sexuality

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