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On the Abject in Christina Ramberg's Torso Paintings

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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