Laura Gonzalez

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Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria by Sigmund Freud ***** — 10 Apr 2016

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Reading dates: 24 January – 28 March 2016

Reading Dora’s case history, reading it with real attention, is the first step of my ghosting method, the one I adopted to develop a one to one durational piece, Ida, which I showed as part of Buzzcut festival on Friday 8 April 2016. What happened when I performed it is for another post.

Reading in this way, trying to find Ida’s voice in between the lines of Dora is exhausting. It is like tracing every single letter with my hands and questioning each word’s meaning. I had read Dora before, but never like this. I feel I embroidered the whole book (maybe that’s my next piece). But the story is fascinating. I let her live in me, I lent her my mouth to speak her words, my body for her to breathe again. I was possessed by this story and when the spirit left me, I was limp, empty. But I had to let her speak. Her analysis, as we have it, is only a fragment, it is incomplete, and often Freud’s interpretations infuriated me (oh the reticule, so easy, so so easy!). I wrote him out of my piece. I listened to him, but like one listens when one is paying attention to something else that is more important.

While reading, I distilled her voice, and wrote her words by hand. This is very important. By hand, with my hand. Then I typed them and then I recorded them, with my voice. Then I listened to them and put my own voice back in my body, through my ears. I looked for Ida in Freud’s words. I found her, recorded her her voice, made it mine. We mixed, to the point that I lost the sense of where she was and where I began. She was not in me. She was like adding salt to water. The water becomes something else and I think she transformed me forever. Reading is one thing, but reading with one’s whole body is something that I know I need to take sparingly and with care, for I offer myself, I give myself up to an other which, in this case, is disturbed by betrayal (a disturbance I also share). I now need to find a way of taking the salt out of the water without evaporating. Is that even possible? An exorcism?

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Hysteria (Graphic Freud) by Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zárate*** — 28 Jan 2016

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Reading dates: 01–28 January 2016

This is a delightful graphic novel which, although necessarily simplifying the many facets of hysteria according to Freud, is also able to give a glimpse of its complexity and its problems. I liked the focus on cases, the historical narrative intermingled with ghosts from the past and the future. It is beautifully written and drawn, literary but, as ever with hysteria, also romanticised. This is especially evident in the choice of giving the ghost of Princess Diana a voice and I wonder if more could have been done with it and with Freud’s own hysteria. My main problem with it is the glaring omission of Dora, one of Freud’s most important patients and his Irene Adler. I suspect this might be because she gets a book of her own, eventually. Even with this thought, she should be at least alluded to in this work. Drawn or mentioned, pointed at. But, of course, this is a graphic novel about Freud, and not hysteria, isn’t it? The process, the method, the research get the time and space.

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Don’t Say Anything — 2 May 2015

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Don’t Say Anything, a durational performance piece as part of the exhibition ‘This House has been Far Out at Sea’, Laurieston Arches, Glasgow. 2-4 May 2015, 12–6 with a late night on Sunday.

I will return to Frau Emmy von N. the words Sigmund Freud wrote in his famous case history about her. She will tell you her story of hysteria in the first person, just as Emmy would have told it to Freud in 1889.

As part of Glasgow Open House Festival.

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Reading Hysteria review — 26 Mar 2014

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Wimbledon blog posted a lovely review of our performance last week: http://blogs.arts.ac.uk/wimbledon/2014/03/25/acts-re-acts-week-three/

I want to thank everyone at Wimbledon (Clare Mitten, Peter Farley, Anna, Richard and Mette) for making the day go smoothly, bearing with us and our pernickety approach to lighting and being so attentive to our outpour of words. Your generous feedback will make us revisit this text again, fold it for the fourth time and show it to you.

[…] This was followed by a performance lecture ‘Reading Hysteria, Between Laughter and Crying’ by Eleanor Bowen & Laura Gonzalez, incorporating performed text and projections. The work explored the condition of “hysteria” both historically and in relation to the image and performativity, reading and writing. The performance culminated in Bowen and Gonzalez re-enacting Ulay and Abramovich’s AAA AAA (1978) to a screening of Sam Taylor Wood’s film Hysteria (1997). […]

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WIMBLEDON SPACE presents: ACTS RE-ACTS — 13 Mar 2014

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Eleanor and I will be presenting our performance lecture ‘Reading Hysteria Between Laughter and Crying’ at Acts Re-Acts on Wednesday 19 March at 3pm. We will be sharing our time with the fascinating Mette Sterre, showing STRUCTUREALIST (2pm) and the wonderful and elegant Richard Layzell (of Glory fame) who will be presenting SWITCH (4pm).

READING HYSTERIA, BETWEEN LAUGHTER AND CRYING (30 Minutes)
Bowen & Gonzalez present a collaborative performed text, accompanied by projected images and film. The piece explores the relationship between writing and reading, and the role of the image and performativity in relation to the condition known as hysteria.

See here for the full ACTS RE-ACTS event timetable and work abstracts

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I Love Dick by Chris Kraus ***** — 5 Feb 2014

Reading dates: 22 December 2013 – 04 February 2014

After reading my Loitering with Intent review, N— took his comfort book, Martin Amis’ The War Against Cliche and read me a paragraph from the introduction. The text acknowledged a change in literary criticism with the advent of the internet. We have all become critics and our criticism is solely related to our orientation to the book, to whether it works for us or not. But Amis thinks that this is not criticism, for something is lost: the book itself, and its relation to the canon. Fair point Amis, but what if the canon is wrong, or, perhaps, tendentious?

This idea of rules and reference points, and a right way of doing things, is what is broken in Chris Kraus’ I Love Dick. I have never read a book like this one. Yet, it is not totally groundbreaking. If Amis wants me to refer to a canon I will tell you that the genre and style borrows from epistolary literature, especially Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which I studied for my PhD. Kraus, however (and like Sophie Calle but better), plays with fact and fiction, with memoir and novel. Since when has a woman written a libertine novel, which is also a theoretical fiction? Hats off to Kraus, especially as she does so beautifully. The prose is light when it needs to (the letters) and intricate too. There are three pieces within the book that return to my memory: one of Hannah Wilke and her struggle to be an artist when Claes Oldenburg decides and succeeds in erasing part of her life (Dick tried to do the same); one on two paintings by Kitaj and a sublime section on schizophrenia, just before one of the most heart-wrenching endings I have ever read. I wish Dick had killed Chris. That would have been more bearable than what really happens in the book.

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The book is here and it is actually quite lovely — 10 Jan 2014

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Heroines by Kate Zambreno ***** — 31 Dec 2013

Reading dates: 19 November – 31 December 2013

When reviewing The Bat, I urged you to stick to your reading list, lest you should encounter novels like this and waste your time. With Heroines, I am going to contradict myself. It is everything one would hope from venturing outside of the confines of a reading list created at a time removed from the reading experience. In November, I joined a reading group called ‘Sick, Sick, Sick: The Books of Ornery Women‘ and this was the first text to discuss. What a find too. it is energetic, sensitive, angry and its topic is hysteric women. It is a sad book. Zambreno discusses the wives of famous writers: T.S. Eliot – eerily named Thomas Eliot, the man, rather than the poet – Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Paul Bowles and others. The wives who give themselves up as writers to take on their caring, companion roles, the support. Yet, the writing struggles within them as it often does. It comes out as something [hysterical] recognised as an illness. They are interned in sanatoriums; they die. Meanwhile, the husbands get to own the papers and diaries of their wives and convert them into characters (see ‘Tender is the Night’). Hamlet the Existentialist versus Ophelia the Hysteric. Yes, they both die, but in what different ways. What is also interesting is Zambreno’s own writing, her involvement in the stories of these wives. She is obsessed – all the signs are there, including the breakdowns – and there is nothing wrong with it.

This is an important book to read, re-read and to remember. Even to study. Important because it is a coming into consciousness book for a woman and a writer. Hysterics, Kate Zambreno tells us, were photographed but could not photograph. This is her as Francesca Woodman, able to tell her own story. The Freud Museum has a show with works from these wives, these writers that were denied their work: Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Anna Kavan. I have just expanded by reading list for 2014.


© Jane Fradgley with kind permission of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity (and the Freud Museum website)

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Madness, Women and the Power of Art — 16 Dec 2013

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Madness, Women and the Power of Art [Paperback]
Frances Davies (Author, Editor), Laura González (Author, Editor)

If madness has a female voice, what art can represent it? Why do women so often find themselves lying on the couch as patients? Does creativity and cultural production have a special relation to madness? This collection of essays from an international cluster of sociologists, social and mental health workers, artists and literary critics offers wide-ranging answers to these pertinent questions. From the madwoman in the attic to the position of women in outlaw motorcycle gangs, the essays address such topics as the role of perversion in Italian literature, a Marxist critique of the psychiatric system, multiple personality order, and the link between creativity and self-harm. Some accounts come from direct observation, or suffering itself; others from reading and looking. In its attempt to represent madness, the convulsive ripples of thought dissect, contradict, perform and, at times, grieve. This book is an enthralling journey into the depths of madness.

Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Inter-Disciplinary Press; First edition (1 Dec 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1848882475
ISBN-13: 978-1848882478

Frances Davies is a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practitioner in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Originally a social worker in South Africa, she came to the UK to further her studies. Her work on this book began with her MSc studies in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the University of Northampton. Laura González is an artist and writer. When she is not following Freud, Lacan and Marx s footsteps with her camera, she lectures postgraduate students at the Glasgow School of Art and Transart Institute. Her current research explores knowledge and the body of the hysteric through text, dance, performance and video.

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Beyond these Walls — 2 Jun 2013

Our ebook chapter, from last year’s Madness conference, has been published! With authors from our forthcoming hard copy book and many, many more. You can download it here.

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Listen closely. Can you hear the echoes of their cries resounding in the night, or is it the shrieks of the condemning? Perhaps it is the outrage of the masses at such weakness, or is their fear? Madness: a diagnosis, a label, a construction of power, and, for some, a life sentence of isolation. The product of an interdisciplinary exchange spanning four days, this volume is a collection of those voices joined in dialogue who dare to consider the questions of madness. Come, join us as we explore, consider, and probe the boundaries of madness.

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.