11:00 – 16:00, Friday 28 June, Room 4SB.5.3, University of Essex (Colchester)

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. David Hulks (Colchester School of Art; University of East Anglia) Art History and the Mind: Questioning the shift from Psychoanalysis to Neuroscience

This paper looks at the various challenges of art history and the role that psychological analysis has played in advancing the discipline. By taking a long view on the uses and misuses of psychoanalysis in art history, it is possible tentatively to forecast future developments in the theory of art history in relation to the mind. A key development that has emerged in the last 25 years has been the arrival of what can collectively be termed neuroaesthetics. This paper looks carefully at the neuroscience of art history to ask if the rise of new perspectives on art and the brain interferes with, or even replaces, psychoanalytic explanatory models.  It is argued that the rise of neuroscience will at the very least precipitate a revision of traditional Freudian, Kleinian and Lacanian approaches. However, the paper does not take the view that this is because the new theories are more scientific and therefore have greater reliability. Rather, it is argued that too little attention has been paid to the growing body of informed scepticism that there now is, and urges caution before abandoning large areas of psychoanalytic thought. The paper concludes by asking if in fact we need psychoanalytic ideas in art history, and, if we do, how these can best be put to use.

David Hulks is an Associate Fellow of the School of Art History & World art Studies at the University of East Anglia and Lecturer in Research at the Colchester School of Art. He has been interested in psychoanalytic approaches in the history of art since teaching at the Tavistock Clinic in Hampstead in the mid 1990s, and was one of the authors included in the anthology, Brandon Taylor (ed) Sculpture & Psychoanalysis, 2006.


Shaun Camp (University Campus Suffolk) Play: Object Relating and True Self

As an educator one is aware that there are constants within the teaching of psychoanalytical theory to students of Fine Art, names that are perpetually part of the curriculum.  One is also aware that often one is utilising psychoanalytical theory in interrogating the art object, as a ‘complete’ entity. There are those whose theories are often overlooked, in transforming the latent into the manifest. Similarly there are aspects of the creative production that are often over looked; where one considers the processes that lead to the formation of, or the destruction of, the art object, and those works which are focused on the experience rather than the resultant artifact. This text aims to explore D.W. Winnicott’s theories on play and reality, and the transitional space between and true self and false self, through its application to selected Happenings by Alan Kaprow and Joseph Beuys Actions. The aim of this analysis is two fold. Firstly, to interrogate the role of the artist/viewer relationship, as well as the participant/object relationship, and secondly to question whether Winnicott’s writings can play an active role in establishing a psychoanalytical understanding of the selected works, and perhaps wider art context.

Shaun Camp is Senior Lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts, and Lecturer in Fine Art and Arts Practice at the University Campus Suffolk. He lectures both theory and studio practice. He has lectured, exhibited, and worked collaboratively across Europe, including France, Romania, Poland and Lithuania.

Ann-Cathrin Drews (Münster Art Academy) From Form to Psyche: Psychoanalytical Constellations in Modern and Contemporary Art

Modern art’s paradigmatic shift determined the subjective over the so-called objective representation. From the depiction of psychological states, for example dreams as motives in paintings, this development gained further prevalence with postmodernism. Terms such as structure, void, repetition or topology now constitute not just formal aspects of artworks. Furthermore and in particular by reading art through Lacan’s theoretical psychoanalytical writings the art works are often viewed as structural psychic formations.

Behind such observations are recurring themes like the loss of the object and the extimité of the subject. However, is all repetition in art psychic? How can these theoretical approaches account for the psychic impressions that some artworks, in particular, appear to establish? Considering that these psychic spaces are constituted by going beyond formal solutions one may ask where artistic practise and theoretical investigation meet when engaging with artworks psychoanalytically.

In view of work by Louise Bourgeois, Michaël Borremans and Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler, for example, I would like to look at some of these methodological issues that occur when understanding artworks as psychoanalytical constellations. How do some formal constellations rather than others appear to create this psychic “aura” through the handling of space, time and interiority? How may one distinguish between works considered to be subjective or particularly expressive and works considered to create particular psychic impressions? Can one differentiate formal strategies from their translation into psychoanalytical models or are they intrinsically bound up with these, expressing a hidden content? In how far is biographical information regarding an artist’s own engagement with psychoanalysis or theory important?

Ann-Cathrin Drews currently writes her PhD on Foucault, Art and Aesthetics at Kunstakademie Münster in Germany. Her final paper for the Magister in Art History/Theory, Philosophy and Curatorial Practice (University of Art and Design/Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe) dealt with subjectivity and aesthetics in the late Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan. She also completed a BA in Art History (Goldsmiths, University of London) with a paper on Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan and the Neo-Baroque in Contemporary Art. Conference presentations include the Biannual Congress of the German Association for Aesthetics and Helsinki Photography Conference. She has published texts on modern and contemporary art and aesthetics and reviews on exhibitions for example in Texte zur Kunst.

Hephzibah Rendle-Short (Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London) Twin Axes: Enigma in the Clinic and Studio

As both artist and (trainee) psychoanalyst I am curious that the inauguration of psychoanalysis occurred through observation. Jean-Martin Charcot – a man with a passionate visual desire – used photography and performance in his attempt to master the hysteric as spectacle. He privileged the scopic register – to borrow a term subsequently coined by Jacques Lacan. Then through a sharp turn to the twin register of the invocatory, Sigmund Freud invented the ‘talking cure’ as method. Thus psychoanalysis was born. Freud placed the hysteric upon the couch orientated away from him: her mouth horizontally connected to his ear, so to speak. She lost visual control of the other. The very organisation that sustained her fantasy, the gaze of the observer as incarnation of her desire, was refused her. Enigma entered the scene and she was lead toward perplexity, a direction of treatment later endorsed by Lacan. My presentation will address the status of this enigma. I will ask how, operating within the triangular apparatus of analysand, analyst and speech, it might guide a working method within the triangular observational apparatus of painter, object and painted mark? By brushing against the grain of signification what sort of knowledge might enigma produce within the studio?

Hephzibah Rendle-Short’s practice asks questions of both painting and psychoanalysis. Having recently completed a PhD by Project (July 2012) at the Royal College of Art, she is currently a trainee psychoanalyst at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research in London.

Drew Elizabeth Bucilla (CUNY) Dream-work, Constellation, Map: Joseph Cornell’s Method

My proposed presentation concerns methodological questions raised by a paper I wrote on Joseph Cornell in Fall 2012. This paper re-evaluates Joseph Cornell’s relationship to Surrealism by shifting emphasis from his box constructions to extensive archival dossiers he called “constellations.” In these constellations, an encounter, a place, or a person served as the germination point for an investigative process that involved the collection, curation and assemblage of a wide range of materials and images. I argue that producing these constellations required a specific “method” that is structurally similar to that used in Surrealist automatist writing and Sigmund Freud’s “dream-work”, relying on techniques such as free-association and substitution. However, I do not psychoanalyze Cornell directly. Rather, my method is performative, using Cornell’s own constellation to organize my argument according to the logic of free association and collage. Questions raised by this paper include, what is the applicability of this method to art history? Should a paper on Surrealism, an art that was deliberately irrational, follow proper standards of academic argumentation? Or can art historians devise another, equally structured “method” in lieu Enlightenment logic, as André Breton believed one could?

Drew Elizabeth Bucilla is a doctoral student in the Art History Department at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Prior to attending CUNY, she received her B.A. and M.A. in Art History from Columbia University. Currently, she is a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Queens College, CUNY.


WORKSHOP 2: Saturday 8 June, 2013. 14:00 – 18:00, Seminar Room 3+4, Art History Department, University College London, 20-21 Gordon Square.

Keynote: Janet Sayers (Emeritus Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychology, Psychology Department, University of Kent) Two-way traffic in Art and Psychoanalysis

Much has been written about the influence of psychoanalysis on surrealist and abject art.  Rather less has been written about the influence of art on psychoanalysis.  To counter this relative lacuna I will raise for discussion the influence of romanticism in art on the psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud; Marion Milner’s account of the influence of abstract expressionist art on psychoanalysis; and the two-way traffic between art and psychoanalysis in the work of Adrian Stokes and Melanie Klein.

Janet Sayers is Emeritus Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychology at the University of Kent.  Her books include Freudian Tales (1997), Kleinians (2000), and Freud’s Art (2007).  She is currently completing a biography of the psychoanalytically-minded art writer, Adrian Stokes. 


Maïté Marciano (Kingston University) Divergent perspectives on Magritte’s Time transfixed

In opposition to André Breton, who defined surrealism as a “ psychic automatism”, directly embracing Freud ‘s theory of the subject and of the unconscious, René Magritte had an ambiguous relationship to psychoanalysis. Not only did he expressly reject psychoanalytic interpretation as a symbolist iconography late in his career, he in fact quite explicitly refers to Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life in some of his artworks.

In this regard, paintings such as Time transfixed (1938) pose methodological issues, which pushes one to go beyond the limit of its own field of interpretation. By exposing the art historical and psychoanalytical approaches toward this painting and their limit, this paper will engage speculatively with the possibility of a third position. What may be called a Freudian approach will be developed from Jean Pierre Sag’s intervention, which presents a double step of observation and analytical description that considers the artwork independently from the artist’s intention. This will be confronted with an art historical critique that engages with Magritte’s “problématologie”, more abundantly developed in his well-known lecture entitled Lifeline. It will be argued that a critical third position could emerge that attempts to show that beyond Magritte’s discourse a transposition of methods from the Psychopathology of Everyday Life into a poetic may be at stake.

Maïté Marciano graduated in June 2012 with a bachelor (undergraduate degree) in Art History and Archaeology from the Free University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles). She was successfully selected to study abroad within an exchange program at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2011 (September 2011- January 2012).  Maïté is currently enrolled as an MA student in Aesthetics and Art Theory at the Center For Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) at Kingston University. 

Jenny Nachtigall (University College London ) Techniques of recording in Dada performance and psychoanalysis

In my PhD research on the practices in and around the Dada avant-garde in Berlin I focus on the relation between the politics of reproduction (in regard to feminism and media theory) and psychoanalysis. In the frame of the workshop I would like to discuss two aspects concerning the relation between Dada performance and psychoanalysis. Firstly, I am looking into the ways in which psychoanalytic knowledge, that artist like R.Huelsenbeck (who trained as a psychiatrist during his involvement with Dada and later in his life became an analyst) and others had access to, was translated into and politicized in Dada performances and the texts, photographs and bodies that constituted them. The methodological framework I’m working with (and against) at the moment is Friedrich Kittler’s “discourse network”, which allows reconsidering artist’s use of psychoanalytic knowledge as a process of recording that resonates with a broader shift in systems of signification. Arguably, psychoanalysis too functioned as a recording system (think only of Freud’s description of the analyst as a “telephone receiver”). The larger questions that arise then, is what did Dada and psychoanalysis as two “recording systems” share, where did their common epistemological ground lie, and how did their work of recording differ?

Jenny Nachtigall is a PhD candidate at the History of Art Department at the University College London, where she works on a thesis exploring the historical and theoretical nexus of Berlin Dada, the politics of reproduction and psychoanalysis. Jenny also works as a writer, translator and critic and has written for Artforum and Texte zur Kunst among others.

Robert Kilroy (Trinity College Dublin) Psychoanalysis and Art History: From Parallelism to Parallax

In his 1984 work Pictorial Nominalism Thierry de Duve responds to the epistemological issues raised by the relationship between art and psychoanalysis with what he terms ‘Heuristic Parallelism’: an approach which remains attentive to the inversely proportional truth-function “which crosses the two parallel series” (1984: 4). A radically alternative position has recently been articulated by Slavoj Žižek, who argues that our ultimate horizon should not be to work on a discipline’s limitation “by relying on the other to fill up its lack” but to replace “the polarity of opposites with the concept of the inherent tension”, what he calls a ‘Parallax View’ (2007: 7).

This paper will attempt to move beyond De Duve’s parallelism by asking: what does it means to adopt a parallax view of the relationship between art history and psychoanalysis? Through a ‘short-circuiting’ of Lacan’s symptomatic reading of the image and Panofsky’s iconological approach to the art work I will attempt, following Žižek, to reactualize art history through the prism of psychoanalysis while rehabilitating psychoanalysis in its aesthetic core. Ultimately, this shift from parallelism to parallax frames the inter-disciplinary crossover not as external opposition but as two sides of the same discourse, which for structural reasons can never meet.

Robert Kilroy is a PhD student in the department of French, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultural Studies, Trinity College Dublin. His research project, entitled ‘Marcel Duchamp: Resolving the Word/Image Problematic’, aims to re-position the writings and artworks of Marcel Duchamp within a broader history of word and image by locating art historical evidence within the conceptual framework of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. He also engages with the fields of cultural theory and digital culture as well as with the writings of Hegelian philosopher and Lacanian psychoanalyst Slavoj Žiżek.

Yasco Horsman (Leiden University) Listening to Art: On Theodor Reik’s notion of the Third Ear

In my intervention at the workshop, I will re-introduce the work of the Viennese psychoanalyst Theodor Reik (1888-1969). I will focus on his concepts of the ‘Haunting Melody’ and ‘Listening with the Third Ear.’ Both concepts were introduced by Reik in his book Listening with the Third Ear (1948), and have later been elaborated by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (in the context of continental aesthetics), and by Wilfred Bion (in a clinical context). The aim of my paper is not to trace the history of these concepts, but to tease out their implications for a rethinking of the artistic object in psychoanalytic terms, in ways that differ fundamentally from the better-known Freudian approach to the art object. Whereas the traditional Freudian approach sees the artwork as either an expression or a representation, Reik’s work invites us to think of the artwork not as an object, but as a mise-en-scene of a situation that allows the spectator to ‘listen’ differently, i.e. with a ‘third ear.’ As I hope to demonstrate, this approach to art opens up ways of understanding the affective dimension of contemporary artistic practices, not just in obvious fields such as sound art, but also in what has come to be called ‘relational art’ or ‘relational aesthetics’ (Bishop, Bourriaud), practices in which the art object itself sets up an intersubjective relationship that could (I hold) productively be compared to the psychoanalytic situation as Reik understands it.

Yasco Horsman is lecturer in Film and Comparative Literature at Leiden University (the Netherlands). He is the author of “Theaters of Justice: Staging, Judging and Working Through in Arendt, Brecht and Delbo” (Stanford University Press, 2012), and is currently working on a book-length study on Radio, and a series of essays on comics and infantility.



WORKSHOP 1: Friday 3 May, 2013. Ivor Crewe Seminar Room, University of Essex, Colchester

Keynote lecture: Prof. Margaret Iversen (University of Essex) Carving, Modelling, Casting 

Kleinian art critic, Adrian Stokes, expanded the distinction between carving and modeling to include the different sorts of psychic engagement involved in these sculptural techniques. Carvers, he argued, value the resistance that their material offers and so preserve in the work a sense of the stone’s otherness and integrity. In other words, they take up what Klein called a ‘depressive position’ in relation to their materials. Modellers, by contrast, impose a preconceived idea or phantasy on the viscous clay, treating it as an extension of the self. I argue that contemporary artists who use casting resemble carvers as they acknowledge the loss of the object  (through mass production/digitalization) but at the same time restore our sense of the resistant materiality of things.

Margaret Iversen is Professor in the School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex.  She is author of Beyond Pleasure: Freud, Lacan, Barthes and Alois Riegl: Art History and Theory. Recent publications include Chance (MIT/ Whitechapel Gallery) and Writing Art History (with Stephen Melville).  From 2008-2011, she was Director (with Diarmuid Costello) of AHRC-funded research project, “Aesthetics after Photography.”  She is currently writing a book on photography, trace and trauma.


Andrés Montenegro (University of Essex) Displacements of the Uncanny 

My research focuses on Francis Alÿs, Santiago Sierra and Tania Bruguera’s artistic practices through the theoretical frame of the Freudian ‘uncanny’. In my work, I have explored how certain artworks produce a temporal, and therefore epistemological, crisis in the viewer triggered by the unbidden resurgence of the past –be it historical or personal memories, socioeconomic conditions, historical periodisations or cultural stereotypes– in the present. This presentation uses Tania Bruguera’s Untitled (Bogotá, 2009) as a case study for exploring how works of art articulate such a temporal condensation –which renders culturally accepted or ‘homely’ premises and values strange– by putting forward a methodological displacement of the logic of the uncanny from the individual, subjective register to the societal or cultural order. Suggesting a comparison between an analytic situation in which the patient expresses anxiety triggered by an uncanny reappearance of a repressed mnemonic trace and the visceral, immediate rejection of several audience members of Untitled (Bogotá, 2009), my presentation probes the limits of unfolding the logic of the uncanny from the ontogenetic to the phylogenetic register while simultaneously considering the methodological implications of such a move.

Andrés is a PhD Candidate at the School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH), University of Essex.

Rosa Nogues (Kingston University) The Body of Sexuation: Feminist Art Practice

The application of psychoanalytic concepts to feminist art criticism has a long and well-known history. This interdisciplinary relation has given rise to a fertile terrain from which to examine and analyse the relationship between art production as a representational practice and the patriarchal regime of sexual difference. The representation of the female body in art practice has been explored from a variety of psychoanalytic vantage points (Kristeva and the abject, Irigaray and the figure of the two lips, Klein and the part objects), yet, for an important number of feminist theorists working within the Lacanian framework, the representation of the body was considered suspect, always already mediated by the patriarchal order.

My research focusses on the way the female body has featured in a number of recent art practices and approaches its theorisation from within the framework of Lacanian psychoanalysis. I engage with Lacan’s fundamental principle of ‘there is no sexual relation’ and his sexuation formulas in relation to the figure of the female body and its range of meanings in art practice. My contribution at the workshop would thus be centred on the following question: given the problematisation of anatomy in the Lacanian account of sexuation, what is the relationship between the specific body that his theory outlines and the particular figure of the female body that is represented in art practice?

Rosa Nogués is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (Kingston University). Her thesis examines the use of the female body in art practice in terms of Lacanian theory and notions of sexuation. She has taught in the Philosophy Department at Middlesex University (French Feminist Thought), and lectured at the Universität für angewandte Kunst (Vienna) as part of the Gender Politics and the Art World lecture series. 

Imogen Wiltshire (University of Birmingham) Painting as Psychotherapy: The Crossover Between Art and Psychoanalysis at Arthur Segal’s Painting School for Professionals and Non-Professionals (1937- 1944)

Between 1937 and 1944, Arthur Segal, an émigré artist from Nazi Germany, taught painting as a form of psychotherapy at his institution, Painting School for Professionals and Non-Professionals, London, which he also theorised in his writings. Overlooked in scholarship, the school constituted a pivotal crossover between art and psychoanalysis historically. Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones, Ernst Simmel and Franz Alexander wrote references supporting Segal’s British work permit. British Psychoanalytical Society members, including Ella Sharpe, Sylvia Payne and Barbara Low attended his ‘Special Doctors Courses’ to learn his therapeutic methods. Other psychotherapists, including Margaret Lowenfeld, referred patients for treatment via painting.

Segal taught students to develop visual ability and to paint using his system of formalist principles, in which he considered psychotherapeutic effect to be inherent. He used psychoanalytic theory (e.g. sublimation) to conceptualise this process, but simultaneously constructed a concept of the unconscious through analogies with compositional space in painting, indicating his artistic position. Contemporary psychoanalysts shared Segal’s view that painting could facilitate psychic stability, but reached this via different trajectories. Exposing and exploring the nuances within these exchanges, my presentation poses questions about how painting and psychoanalysis converged as psychotherapeutic practices historically, and how this might relate to contemporary approaches.

Imogen Wiltshire is an AHRC-funded History of Art PhD student at the University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on émigré artist Arthur Segal and the painting school he founded in London in 1937. Imogen also completed her BA and MPhil History of Art degrees at the University of Birmingham. Her BA dissertation was shortlisted in the final three in the Association of Art Historians (AAH) Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2010. She is also a committee member of the AAH Student Group.

Iain Matheson (Independent Researcher) William Burroughs, un hombre invisible: the meta-psychology of l’ecriture in a speculative case of Bionian psychosis

For those psycho-analytically interested in the (more) visual cut-ups of William S Burroughs, the occurrence in Burroughs’s written corpus of ideational material equivalent, at first sight, to Bionian psychotic phantasies must be galvanic: it suggests that one might – even if only virtually – analyse those cut-ups as being attacks on concepts, i.e. on the very nominability of thought/s, and – so – on the apparatus of conscious thought, i.e. – metonymically – on non-precocious consciousness.

However, the (fairly rigorously) conceptual character of the relevant ideational material implies that if Bion’s representations of psychosis are to be used analytically in connection with said cut-ups, Burroughs’s, cannot be taken for analytically interesting, utterances. All of a sudden, we seem to be robbed of verbal, or analytical, material. What is the rationale now for treating the cut-ups Bionian-wise? Might they still obtain something interpretable? For example, might one consider the forms of transference excluded (perhaps unconsciously evaded?) by Burroughs’s address/es? Or have we here a limit on – such – analytic applications of Bion? Such are the questions I propose to raise, treat, and open to discussion.

Iain Matheson graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2001 with honours in film and philosophy, and did graduate work in philosophy at the same institution in 2009. He has addressed conferences organised by the SLSA, the Theoretical Archaeology Group, and &Now, and has published criticism and poetry. His first book – a monograph on the thaumaturgy of capital in Marx – is forthcoming from I-Beam Books. He is in training to practise as a psychodynamic therapist.

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