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A Mouthful, 06.10 – 19.11.2022
Nils Staerk, Copenhagen


Contrary to what enters the mouth and nourishes, what goes out of the body, out of its pores and openings, points to the infinitude of the body proper and gives rise to abjection.[1]


In her writings on abjection, Julia Kristeva puts forth a position of the abject proposed neither as being an object, nor subject. The experience of abjection, however, must be seen as central to the subject’s crafting of selfhood. The formation of ‘I’ occurs through a continuous process of actively distancing and separating the self from the other. A process of othering that is at the core of abject experience. In the introduction to Powers of Horror, Kristeva finds an example in the sensation of acute disgust she experiences in her lips meeting the skin formed on the surface of warm milk. The appalling nature of this new, animate materiality generates a rupture with the knowledge of milk’s potential nourishment: that skin on the surface of milk––harmless, thin as a sheet of cigarette paper […] and, still further down, spasms in the stomach, the belly; and the organs shrivel up the body.[2]


This confrontation with the delicacy of one’s own material being, is from where A Mouthful could be seen to unfold. It is grasped at through tracing the imprint of a child’s encounter with the visual material of a medical lexicon used for classifying infections of the skin––reanimated through painterly processing. Suggested is a possible miming situated between the materiality of paint and that of the body. Lindsmyr’s approach in seeking out the affective and psychological event of abjection, is something meticulously manufactured. An effect perhaps more implosive, than explosive, akin to the example of Kristeva’s food-loathing, where the capacity of the abject to invoke intense disruption acts on a seemingly minute scale. 


(The) infection confronts us with an otherness at the threshold of our own body. Without chasing a holistic, or animistic point of view, it can be said to offer up a state of ‘amplified cohabitation’, proposing a heightened (self)awareness of body as undeniably shared and fluid territory.


Donatella Di Cesare’s recent writings, published in the wake of a (still ongoing) global pandemic, probes the spilling and overflowing body as it is shuffled through an ever more omnipresent biopolitical machinery enforced by present-day capitalist societies[3]. Measures that may appear, at first glance, as taking place on the surface (such as infrared cameras using the measurement of temperature on the skin in an attempt to determine if an individual harbors an ongoing, or oncoming infection), will always be a transaction moving from the inside out. Rendering bodies increasingly transparent to systems of surveillance and control.


Through the series Untitled (Plansch #) a painterly method of infiltration is set out, as if to corrode its own material. Eating holes into or out of previous layers; overwriting cells, the messages, or codes of transmission. Acts of intrusion are carried out in several ways. A sequence of abstract paintings, rendered in an illusory, almost photographic quality, occurs as punctured by a singular act of figuration; dismantling conventions of figuration and abstraction as representing opposing attitudes to image construction.


excerpt from exhibition text for A Mouthful, written by Emil Sandström


[1] Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 108.

[2] Kristeva, Powers of Horror, 2-3.

[3] See: Donatella Di Cesare, Immunodemocracy: Capitalist Asphyxia (London: Semiotext(e), 2020)

exhibition text pdf
A Mouthful


photo courtesy of Malle Madsen

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