Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta

The Incest Taboo and Transgression in Anaïs Nin's House of Incest
Event Hours: 28/09/2023 (13:45)
Location: Conference Room [C]
Colette Standish
Keywords: Incest, Transgression, Female Sexuality, Taboo, Psychic

In 1936, the writer Anaïs Nin wrote House of Incest, a book of prose on the themes of transgression and the taboo of incest, loosely based on a relationship with her father. In writing about these themes, did Nin want to emancipate herself from her father, with whom she allegedly had a sexual affair? Or was it an orchestrated strategy: a deliberate act of destruction and transgression to break down the male-centric world of sexuality, thus taking control of female sexuality? What were Nin's philosophical, artistic, and intellectual underpinnings in writing this book? When Nin wrote House of Incest, she was in the throes of a sexual and artistic awakening that both emerged simultaneously. As a result, both awakenings overlapped and nourished the other's development. As a writer, Nin's influences at the time were Henry and June Miller, Proust, and many others, but the most significant influence was Otto Rank. Rank encouraged her as an artist and supported the expression of transgressive fantasies of her father in her art. This thesis argues that, however, one interprets the relationship with her father, it does not take away the fact that he had a profound and fertile effect on her writing. Nin's relationship with her father was the catalyst – the ultimate transgression – that enabled her as an artist and sexual woman to break away from the limitations of sexuality and discover a subjective, psychic experience of female sexuality, eroticized through her art in the prose of House of Incest.

Colette Standish
Colette Standish is an English painter and photographer, an undergraduate from St. Martin’s College of Art in London, and a San Francisco Art Institute graduate. Colette’s achievements include Jessop’s Photography Prize in London in 2000 and fellowship awards in New Mexico, Italy, and Spain. Her work is in many public and private collections, including the Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe and the Anais Nin Foundation Art Collection. Colette frequently contributes to A Cafe in Space: Anais, a Literary Journal, as seen in Volumes 8, 9, 13, 14, and 15. Colette’s poem, “ A Letter,” published in Volume 8, was made into a music video entitled, I Was in Love… Still Am, by an Avant-garde collective EPI based in Manchester, UK, and Florence, Italy. In 2019, Colette secured a Fellowship at the San Francisco Art In Institute and graduated in May 2021 in Studio Art with honors. In 2020, Colette's Phoenix Rising video was featured in the ArtisticMessages for Inspiration exhibition at ZAZ10TS, a billboard digital art gallery in Times Square, New York. Colette's film, a dream sequence based on The Knight of Mirrors, can be seen in the forthcoming feature film Sammy & Quinn (2022), directed by Christopher Coppola, based on the book Don Quixote by Cervantes. Viaggio: Colette's film, A Journey (2022), which she directed, wrote, and performed in, is currently being shown at film Festivals throughout Europe and the U.S. Colette is currently in the 3rd year of her Ph.D at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, studying art and philosophy.


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