Yesterday afternoon I met with my supervisor and second examiner for my oral exams, the final stage of the comprehensive examination process for my degree program. When I arrived home, exhausted and all my nerves spent, the latest issue of Acne Paper (Issue no. 13 Spring 2012) on The Body was waiting on my doorstep, the perfect reward for successfully completing this stage of my PhD.
As an art historian who researches intersections among art, medicine, and the body, with a wider interest in the history of the body, contemporary body art, abjection, and theories of embodiment, I was thrilled when Acne Paper released their Spring 2012 issue last week and I learned of the theme. My body literally throbbed with excitement. I am impressed at how quickly my copy arrived from Sweden, and with such appropriate timing! I cannot help but feel like the universe is making a small gesture in my direction when things work out this perfectly and everything seems to converge into one incredibly full moment. It makes everything that you are doing and all the decisions you've made feel so right and validated.
Much to my delight, both the front and back pages feature the work of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), whom I have long respected and admired, providing a richly textured framework for the entire volume. Deeply symbolic and characterized by an experimental approach to materials and techniques, Bourgeois' work engages core themes of femininity, sexuality, childhood, domestic confinement, isolation, and trauma, both directly and indirectly referencing the body and its varied forms.
Louise Bourgeois, loose sheet, c.1959.
Louise Bourgeois, loose sheet, c.1959 (left).
Louise, Bourgeois, The Reticent Child (detail), 2003 (right).
Louise Bourgeois, Knife Figure, 2002.
While so far I have only had the chance to briefly glimpse into the 256-page volume, a number of images and articles (some familiar, some entirely new) have already caught my eye, tantalizing me and beckoning me to engage with them further. I think I will spend the weekend doing just that, although Acne Paper is the kind of timeless publication you can endlessly return to, again and again.
Katerina Jebb, Doll Mouth, 1999.
Kiki Smith, Free Fall, 1994.
Lillian Bassman, Across the Restaurant, Barbara Mullen, Paris, 1949 (left).
Lillian Bassman, Born to Dance, Margie Cato, New York, 1950 (right).
Lillian Bassman, The Line Lengthens, model unknown, 1955.
Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, c.1600. The National Gallery, London.
Hanneline Rogeberg, Balzac XI (Claude), Barbara Mullen, 2011 (left).
Hanneline Rogeberg, Thaw, 2009 (right).
Bill Durgin, Cyc-9, 2007.
Bill Durgin, Nude 4, 2009.
The first three images are my own; the rest are from Acne Paper.