Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019
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.