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Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019

Mariana Ortega
Pages 68-87

The Incandescence of Photography
On Abjection, Fulguration, and the Corpse

Inspired by the Kristevan notion of abjection and her view of the corpse as the “most sickening of wastes,” I propose a notion of photographic incandescence—the affective and carnal possibility of a photograph to undo the self. I first discuss the notion of abjection and its relation to incandescence and explore how this incandescence is connected to Kristeva’s view of the corpse. Second, I discuss the notion of photographic incandescence in light of an analysis of Susan Meiselas’s photograph, Cuesta del Plomo, and Roland Barthes’s notions of piercing and fulguration. Finally, I engage Gloria Anzaldúa’s practice of putting Coyolxauhqui together in its attempt to “re-member” the self through the act of creativity, an experience not without pain or the possibility of failure and unreconcilable carnal excess.

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