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Gag and Spew (Three Extracts)

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Julia Morison, Spellbound 2, 2019, oil on polyurethane board, 1290 x 1060 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Julia Morison, Spellbound 1, 2019, oil on polyurethane board, 1290 x 1060 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Julia Morison, Whisper 1, 2019, oil on canvas, 1260 x 970 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation of Julia Morison's Lisp 1 -10 (2019). Photo: Sam Hartnett. Julia Morison, Spellbound 3, 2019, oil on polyurethane board, 1290 x 1060 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Julia Morison, Whisper 3, 2019, oil on canvas, 1260 x 970 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation of Julia Morison's Um/Er at Two Rooms. Photo: Sam Hartnett Julia Morison, Whisper 2, 2019, oil on canvas, 1260 x 970 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Julia Morison, Whisper 4, 2019, oil on canvas, 1260 x 970 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Julia Morison, Abracadabra, 2019, oil on canvas, 2204 x 1250 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Auckland

 

Julia Morison
Um/Er

 

6 December 2019 - 17 January 2020

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Several times in the same work [Choruses from The Rock]—regretting the gag and spew of language which is a perversion of the original, authorial silence of the Word—the Christian poet [T.S. Eliot] laments the hectic printing of books, and chides their authors for being ‘too vain and distracted for silence.’ Oppositely, the Jew, recognising that the Torah is the word and flesh of God, celebrates the endless publication of commentaries, summaries, dissertations, refutations, marginalia, glosses. He attends religiously to the sacrifice of the Word in language.

Stuart McKenzie, ‘A word on dumbness in the thick of speech,’ NOW SEE HEAR! Art, Language and Translation, ed. Wedde and Burke, Victoria University Press (for Wellington City Art Gallery), 1990, p. 234.

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Cut off from the phallus, the so-called ‘primary signifier’—and consequently disqualified from an effective relation with desire, which mediates all intercourse—the female is effectively kicked out of language. But it is not a simple exclusion that gags the subject. It is not simply against language that there is dumbness. The voice is lost in speech removing the tongue by moving the lips. And like a Golem who is brought to life and fitted out with an identity through the incantation and imposition of words and yet is mute, we are made fluent in a language which speaks us if not talks us down.

Ibid, p. 235

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The Word marks off a silence. A word is a silence precisely because it must resort to itself as its own explanation, return to itself as its own point, body oblivion, but brute fact or flesh: the very matter of the immaterial. Between the word and flesh—between order and silence, violence made to order—there is a relentless vacillation.

Ibid, p. 236

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John Hurrell

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