“According to Kant […] what is bad, what is outside of or goes beyond aesthetic taste and judgement, is matter—that which is motivated, which seduces, embarrasses, or leads the viewer astray, away from the proper consideration of the intrinsic form [of the art object].
“But how, or where, are these distinctions between form and matter, between intrinsic and extrinsic, made? Derrida suggests that the critical place of judgement is not at the centre of the category where differences are most emphatic, but at the very limit, at the framing edge of the category, where the surplus or secondary term most nearly belongs to the main subject. It is at these crucial edges where the distinction between inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion, acceptability and unacceptability, is most exquisite. […]
“We can now begin to place the female nude not only at the centre of the definition of art but also on the edge of the category, pushing against the limit, brushing against obscenity. The female nude is the border, the parergon as Derrida also calls it, between art and obscenity. The female body—natural, unstructured—represents something that is outside the proper field of art and aesthetic judgement; but artistic style, pictorial form, contains and regulates the body and renders it an object of beauty, suitable for art and aesthetic judgement. […]
“The female nude marks both the internal limit of art and the external limit of obscenity. This is the symbolic importance of the female nude. It is the internal structural link that holds art and an entire system of meaning together. And whilst the female nude can behave well, it involves a risk and threatens to destabilize the very foundations of our sense of order.”