n De Arte - The 'person without the person' in the early work of Paul Emmanuel : research

Volume 2012, Issue 85
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Paul Emmanuel's early prints and incised drawings represent the human body as a presence that either is not easily seen, actively disappears or erases itself, or is entirely absent. In doing so, these still life and landscape works metaphorically explore inner, psychological 'landscapes', both conscious and unconscious. By drawing deliberate attention to his oblique and deceptive surfaces, Emmanuel's process, medium and subject matter may be said to express subjectivity as a process of materialisation, as formed through the contingencies and inconsistencies of vision, experience and memory. To 'see' this process, and to understand what Emmanuel means by 'seeing and not seeing', I consider two strategies that Emmanuel arguably employs to disrupt viewing : partial, fragmented and multiple perspectives and empty clothing abandoned in landscapes. I employ Bryson's 'glancing' viewing, which acknowledges and reflects the fragmentation of the Lacanian eye/'I'. In the discursive vacillation that ensues between viewer and work, process and product, presence and absence, inside and outside,these 'landscapes' question what it means to look, to be seen, to feel and to remember from within the putative boundaries of the gendered body. A subjectivity that expresses itself as what Emmanuel calls 'the person without the person' is, I conclude, what emerges from these apparent paradoxes.

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