The Unknown Subject

Stefan Schwartzman
09-08-2018 - 26-08-2018

"The conflict and odd dysmorphia that comes from embodiment of a sign, and the conflicts made from decisions to craft that image or reject it, every day."

-Lali Foster

One would be tempted to recall Deleuze's reading of Francis Bacon’s paintings, of bodies without organs, non-hierarchical rhizomatic machines. But Schwartzman's bodies go further, they are almost always holes, they describe looped geometries ready to disappear into the singularity.

-Alessandro Bava

"These human images snagged in my imagination, which twisted and turned reactively, picking and chewing over them, foolishly trying to get nourishment from them-for I wanted to be part of this vibrant and powerful world. I wanted beauty too, not merely physical beauty, but the heightened pitch of existence the magazines hinted at. I think I believed in some murky way what I was being shown, that ideal experience could be found in a particular, correct example of human identity and form, form subliminally linked to higher ideals.

My mind, of course knew better. My mind did not like my psyche's vulnerability to this chimera and sounded the alarm with imagistic assertions of my own:

I remember seeing Pet Sematary (Stephen King's horror story of burial and re-animation) during this time and being pierced by the image of a grotesquely re-animated person digging with his hands in somebody's yard, looking for bones to chew on, bewildered and ashamed but unable to stop -unable too to get any nourishment from the bones he dug up.

To me it was an image of compulsion that represented, with blunt, poetic accuracy, my psyche's stimulated wish to have the "beauty" being fed it, along with a great collective psyche's stimulated wish. This understanding protected me from more fully absorbing such poisonous wishes because of the truth I intuited in the image; the seed of deprivation hidden in a fevered dream of perfection. Indeed, part of the reason I think this "dream" was so compelling to me from the start was my stricken feeling for the underlying wound of deprivation."

- Mary Gaitskill, Introduction to "Veronica"

Working out ambivalences surrounding experiences in my own body. What does it mean to live not only as a person, but as a sign/thing, alive/corpse, as inhabited/inanimate?
How does occupation of this space shape an experience of oneself, and dictate others engagement with it?
I’m interested in the specific denials and erasures of subjectivity that one risks in this world when embodying an object of desire, specifically how it pertains to historically exalted ideals of the young white body.

-Stefan Schwartzman