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In some feminist theory hysteria is seen as a ruse category that serves to exclude women as subjects from the very discourses that they help to constitute as objects. Classical psychoanalysis is one example of this discursive foundation-as-exclusion; traditional art (history) is another. The surrealist association of hysteria and art might function in a similar way: precisely because it is celebrated, the feminine, the female body, remains the silenced ground of this art. However, this association departs from traditional aesthetics (if it does not improve on it): the female body is not the sublimated image of the beautiful but the desublimated site of the sublime - ie., the hysterical body inscribed with signs of sexuality and marks of death. Moreover, the surrealists not only desired this image, this figure; they also identified with it. And this identification should not be dismissed too quickly as an appropriation. In a simple sense they wanted to be hysterics, to be by turns passive and convulsive, disponible and ecstatic. In a more difficult sense they were hysterics, confused about sexual identity. Out of this condition some surrealists were able to develop a subversive association between trauma and artistic representation - an association only suggested in Freud (and ambivalently too).
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Jake and Dinos Chapman, Zygotic acceleration, biogenetic, de-sublimated libidinal model, 1995
From Tate Liverpool, with reference to former exhibit, ‘Jake and Dinos Chapman: Bad Art For Bad People’ (15 December 2006 - 4 March 2007):
The series of mutated mannequin sculptures, or anatomies, shown here dominate the artists’ work of the 1990s. Zygotic acceleration biogenetic de-subliminated libidinal model (enlarged x 1000) 1995 is composed of a group of child mannequins fused together, whose misplaced genitals replace other orifices. Such works evoke the Surrealists’ fascination with shop-display mannequins, waxworks, automatons or dolls, relating them also to Sigmund Freud’s (1856-1939) concept of the uncanny, because they hover between the living and the inanimate. The Chapmans’ mannequins only become truly uncanny when, like Hans Bellmer’s dolls, the artists play with their bodily coherence, fragmenting and fusing bodies together to create monstrous hybrids, displacing usually concealed or hidden parts of the human body (genitalia, pudenda) onto their faces. They also refer to a Freudian view of displaced sexual desire or libido, or desires that are repressed and then released (de-sublimated), as in The Return of the Repressed 1997. Furthermore, they evoke contemporary concerns with genetic manipulation and cloning - or ‘Frankenstein science’ - and vanity or celebrity driven plastic surgery.