© Pat Brassington, Untitled, from the series Cambridge Road, 2007

© Pat Brassington, Untitled, from the series Cambridge Road, 2007

“In most of her ‘artist’s statements’ and the rare interviews in press, Brassington mentions her engagement with both surrealism and psychoanalysis. But there is no allegiance, no endorsement, no salute to the father. Everything is troubled in one way or another: from horror imagery that is violent and abject, through the hauntingly strange and uncanny, to the hideous, the hilarious and the banal. Brassington interrogates and extrapolates on the psychoanalytic in extreme ways: orifices exhale, threaten and protrude; the feminine is hysteric, phallic, powerful; the father is demented, perverted (the père-version of the father) and menacingly psychotic.
Feminists have often critiqued Brassington’s work with reference to Julia Kristeva’s thesis about the subversive potential of the pre-Oedipal space and experience where the abject is a threat to the social order.7 The abject is what spills out from the body and cannot be contained: tears, vomit, sexual excretions, blood. It is characterised by the body seeping from its own containment (the skin), and tumbling into the social world unannounced. The abject body creates a kind of awe and fear in the viewer and as such has a radical edge in representation. Like the pre-Oedipal space before language, the abject threatens to topple polite social conventions.8 But, like the surrealists, Brassington interacts with psychoanalytic experience rather than adhering to any particular school of thought. As an artist aware of feminist art criticism, she undercuts the misogyny sometimes associated with the surrealists’ representations of feminine sexuality and their romantic notion of the female muse who was invariably fetishised through male desire. In her work sex, sexuality, desire and the sensual are evoked in a series of bizarre mise-en-scènes that present flashes and glimpses of dreamlikestates. These invoke hysteria and psychosis but do so by looking at fears, fantasies and traumas with a gaze that is importantly awry. This skewed perspective on the psychosexual landscape allows the artist to become a kind of conjurer.”

Excerpt from a paper by Anne Marsh, very worth reading

Pat’s work at Stills’ Gallery

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