Harriet Parker-Mercer

Photography, BA (Hons)

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NB. Views and opinions of students in the degree show are their own and do not represent the views of the University.


This project explores the human mouth and its movement in an abject manner with the purpose of creating an adverse reaction from the viewer. The purpose of my work is to subvert the mainstream narrative and connotations of the mouth and discover how that can affect the emotional response of an audience. My practice is informed by theorists such as Julia Kristeva who discusses the abject in her book ‘Powers of Horror’ which looks at how subjects such as bodily fluids and injury can cause an adverse reaction from a viewer due to the subject matter being deemed inappropriate for display or discussion. Furthermore, the images capture the mouth mid-movement and this could create a sense of unease for an audience, as they are wanting to see a complete movement, moreover it has the possibility to evoke a physical response - that the audience may begin to move their own mouth in an unusual manner. The aim is not to completely repulse an audience but leave them in a state of uncomfortable awe; they do not want to look at the images but can not seem to look away. A large element of my inspiration came from the work of Andres Serrano and how he expresses a lack of fear through his work. He makes images of subjects that he knows have the ability to upset an audience, and although I do not intend on upsetting the viewer I do want to create a strong reaction. Through this project I am literally exploring the ‘power of horror’ by taking aesthetically interesting images with an underlying theme of disturbance. Why are we so disgusted by bodily fluids that are completely natural? Why are they taboo subjects?