The Formless is What Keeps Bleeding
The abject, understood as the undifferentiable maternal lining – a kind of feminine sublime, albeit composed of infinite unspeakableness of bodily disgust: of blood, of excreta, of mucus membranes – is ultimately cast, within the theorization of abject art, as multiple forms of the wound. Because, whether or not the feminine subject is actually at stake in a given work, it is the character of being wounded, victimized, traumatized, marginalized, that is seen as what is at play within that domain.
Rosalind E. Krauss Formlessness, A User’s Guide
The female body in Duchamp’s Étant donnés is a fetish object, her waxen-flesh frozen in splayed form, the visible pubic mound rendered as a gash, a wound offered up for visual penetration for all eternity. She is the dead girl in the woods, the Black Dahlia, Laura Palmer, the lost women of Juárez; she is all the female bodies ravished by misogyny, all those discounted, dismissed and dismembered throughout history. She is broken, torn apart, but in pieces she is everywhere. Her potent female energy can be divided but not destroyed. She haunts everything and evokes the protagonist in Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus.
The Formless is What Keeps Bleeding extends my research into lost women; bodies that have been silenced or erased through confinement, appropriation, and metaphoric and literal dismemberment. The project is comprised of series of collage drawings in response to Marcel Duchamp’s installation Étant donnés. The lifeless female body central to this work is a composite of three women who were central to Duchamp’s life, who remain culturally obscure: book binder, Mary Reynolds, Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins, and his wife Alexina "Teeny" Duchamp. In this series, I explore the lingering presence of these three women and consider the possibility for a line of communication through women across generations.