On the Abject in Christina Ramberg's Torso Paintings

October 2, 2019

     My interest in the abject stems from my medical background.  As a pathologist it is not uncommon to refer to a lesion's gross and microscopic appearance according to its similarities to food in color, pattern and consistency.  My latest body of work has to do with the sordid history of medical instrumentation.  I have been creating specula in different sizes and materials to explore the sordid history of this instrument, including the experimentation done on enslaved Black women in the South--without consent and without anesthesia--by the "father of gynecology," Dr. J. Marion Sims.  The speculum also conjures the concept of inside/outside or the in-between/borderline state of the abject.  Torsos have always interested me as well in their negation of the Cartesian polemic of the head/mind/identifiable face taking precedence over the body.   I think there is a great deal to learn from the experiences of the body.  Christina Ramberg's torsos in their beautifully-painted, textured patterns yet perfect smoothness are an interesting manifestation of the abject.  I hope you enjoy the case study!


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