‘Abject’ – Dexter’s Dictionary

In the latest issue of S, the journal of Leeds Surrealist Group, I have an essay, ‘A Tower Struck by Lightning’ – on, amongst other things, Surrealism’s assimilation – in which I make reference to the entry for ‘Abject’ in Dexter’s Dictionary: Radical Language Exposed, A – D, published by Pelagian Press sometime in the mid 1990s.

Here is the full entry:


Anyone who consents to appear on TV as a specimen of anything whatsoever may be said to abjecting themselves. A homeless youth appearing in order to provide a visual illustration for a ‘concerned’ documentary is an obvious example. The term also applies, however, to all real people submitting themselves to use by the media an instances of anything, whether game-show contestants, ‘ordinary people’, successful ethnic entrepreneurs or any other category; all are equally abjectifications insofar as they are people being made to make supplication to a framing device. The most extreme form of abjection yet devised is to get people to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Further information on S No.5 can be found here.

Infosurr No.156

Infosurr No.156 includes my review of the exhibition Dreaming the Found by Kathleen Fox, held at Farleys gallery last year.

The English version of my review is as follows:

Chance and an acceptance of ‘the found’, made clear in its title, are at the heart of the latest exhibition by Kathleen Fox, whether from fragments skilfully bound together to create fetish-like objects or from randomly created surfaces from which she creates her paintings, drawings and collages. The striking images that she obtains out from these processes transport us into the dreamtime of mythology, whether drawing upon the continent of her birth, Africa, from classical myth, from the chthonic and pre-historic, and from those myths that are deeply personal, not least the enigmatic signs that come to us from the unconscious. There is a beguiling narrative to Fox’s creations, interconnecting magical threads that lead us into a labyrinth, as if a spell being cast over us by their dialogue, perhaps the rubric of a secret ritual into which we have strayed. It is perhaps fitting that Fox is exhibited in the former home of surrealists Roland Penrose and Lee Miller, and that her work is appreciated by their son, Antony. Hers is unquestionably some of the most powerful artistic work to be found in Surrealism over the past thirty years and it is an enduring disgrace that she has not been included in those large exhibitions, curated by academics, that have focused upon women artists and Surrealism. (KC)

Kathleen Fox, Dreaming the Found, 15 July – 5 September 2021, Farleys Gallery, Farley Farm, Chiddingly, England.