Friday, March 13, 2020

Bri Williams at Queer Thoughts


What a time for an exhibition about soap. What is the history of cleanliness in art, the drains of Gober, the Purell of Puppies Puppies... Under certain conditions old paintings exude soap. Your body itself is barely not-soap, and soap opens your body to becoming not body, cleanses you by blurring self with soap, which goes down the drain, leaving you clean, dry.  Milk congeals skin, becoming subject, but soap is flesh become object, stuff. Classic Kristeva:
...under the cunning, orderly surface of civilizations, the nurturing horror that they attend to pushing aside by purifying, systematizing, and thinking; horror that they seize on in order to build themselves up and function? I rather conceive it as a work of disappointment, of frustration, and hollowing-probably the only counterweight to abjection. While everything else-its archeology and its exhaustion-is only literature: the sublime point at which the abject collapses in a burst of beauty that overwhelms us-and "that cancels our existence." (Céline)