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Unfinished bodies, bodies at work and frank from observation: figure and ground in the work of Dana Schutz.This article examines questions relating to the limits of representation in the work of US painter Dana Schutz (born 1976). Schutz, who gained popularity through her paintings of self-devouring characters, deals with bodies as circuits of creation and deconstruction. The representation of the ‘unfinished’ body in process not only echoes aspects of the artistic creation process in general, but also reflects on the paradoxical link between construction and deconstruction in the production of art. The deterritorialization of the categories in/out, here/there, up/down in her paintings therefore allows for a productive and thorough-going re-examination of the broader questions attending creation, agency and alienation as part of the aesthetic process.