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BOXES beyond borders

Abject Expressionism

Margaret Tan
Singapore 2001

The workings of a patriarchal symbolic system have long associated culture and mind with the masculine (esteemed), and nature and body with the feminine (constantly devalued).  This work attempts to reevaluate that which is defined as inferior by deliberately using a body part that refused to fit into any particular definition. Hair– a symbol of sexual prowess (or lack of for the Western nudes)– also acts as a “momento mori”, marking lack. It is a significant abject material, highlighting the slippage between opposites, the living and the dead, the sensual and the repulsive. Because it stands at the borderline separating the inside and the outside of the body, it holds simultaneous powers of fascination and horror. The weaving and braiding of hair in this work act as a metaphor for the bonding and networking amongst women.