Taking apart the body: Abjection and body art

Rina Arya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


When thinking about abjection in relation to the body it is illuminating to think about the significance of the boundary between two different states. In abjection this boundary becomes problematized through transgression. This article examines the various processes of transgression employed by performance artists that involved piercing, cutting, ingesting and expelling as a way of rupturing personal and social homogeneity and distorting the normal parameters of bodily expression and sensation. These processes often left the artist in a state of stupor or ecstasy at which point they were able to escape beyond their culturally determined body to a state of abjection and anarchy. By subjecting their bodies to a range of often extreme experiences, artists pushed the boundaries of representation and expressed corporeal and psychological states that transgressed social propriety. Abjection became a tool of social critique where marginalized groups could articulate their concerns as a way of empowering their minority status. Viewers in turn experienced sights and participated in actions that challenged their assumptions about art and conveyed a whole new arena of experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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