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Re-presenting the Excremental Body in Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s Memorial Project Waterfield: The Story of the Stars and Jae Rhim Lee’s Infinity Burial Project

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As the devastating effects of the Anthropocene become ever more acute, contemporary artists are increasingly concerning themselves with ecology: the study of relations between organisms and their environments. In this thesis I examine several projects that address these critical issues. Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba and Jae Rhim Lee are two artists who focus on the excremental body by which I mean the vulnerable, mortality of the body through its excretions in life and after death. In their works they confront various dimensions of death and transmute the excremental body in order to expose neo-liberal necropolitics and remediate disembodiment. Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s film Memorial Project Waterfield: The Story of the Stars (2006-2014) and Lee’s Infinity Burial Project (2008-Present) both utilize substances that are considered taboo, such as urine and corpses, in order to transgress boundaries of purity and danger. Through a transdisciplinary analysis, I will examine how each artist approaches US necropolitics affecting Vietnamese and American bodies through ecological, psychological, and cultural lenses.

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