Senga Nengudi, RSVP (1975).

Nengudi is a Chicago born artist that deals with the abject in a multitude of ways. Firstly, she discusses on her website that she specifically uses the discarded and the commonplace,  dirt and refuse. She states, “
To shape shift paradigms I find different ways to use materials others consider useless or insignificant providing proof that the disregarded and disenfranchised may also have the resilience and reformative ability to find their poetic selves”. This in itself is abject, the use of the discarded, the reification and enshrinement of refuse; taking that which has been excluded and arguing for it’s importance, its power, its necessity.


In the image below from RSVP,  the work is recognizable as pantyhose, stretched, filled, and closed off, their crotches splayed to the world. This is abject through the emphasis on the site of female difference, where the mother as monster begins, the assummedly mutilated and castrated female genitals. There is a lovely slippage into ambiguity that happens in this work, where the panty hose, coded as female, their crotches thrust out, transform into a scrotal form, becoming hybrid and hermaphroditic.  That ambiguity is the realm of the abject.


For more on Senga Nengudi:



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