A paper I wrote with the wonderful Christopher Danowski has been published in issue 0 of ELSE, an international art, literature, theory and creative media journal. The image on the cover is also a hybrid, like the writing: Chris’ head and my décolletage. Thank god there is a fair amount of Lacan in our paper to analyse that. Have a look at this smart publication here (free but needing registration) and consider submitting. The deadline for the issue on contemplation is 1 January 2015.
I curated Alternative Maternals, an international show dismantling the collective characteristics by which the maternal is recognisable or known. Through a variety of expressions the show combines diverse lenses of absence, rejection, memory, legacy, scandal, autonomy, physical body and social media. It opens at Lindner Project Space in Berlin on the 3 August 2014 and runs until 9 August.
The artists in the show are wonderful, moving, critical, supportive and very engaged. What can I say, it has been a pleasure to work with them; I have laughed and learned, and I could not have asked for a more interesting project to be involved in. They are: Deborah Dudley (USA), Linda Duvall (Canada), Jeca Rodriguez Colón (Puerto Rico), Miriam Schaer (USA), and Valerie Walkerdine (UK). You can see the charming catalogue we produced here (PDF, 1MB).
I want to thank Cella and Klaus Knoll at Transart Institute, Eto Otitigbe and Kate Hers Rhee for their support with organising a show in a venue I have not been in yet. It is amazing how easy and rewarding it has been considering the crazy nature of the circumstances.
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.
Director and editor Riccardo Boglione
Editorial staff RB, Georgina Torello
Journal header Paolo Argeri
Journal design Massimo Alacca
All images are taken from Dr. Albert de Schrenck-Notzig, Los fenómenos de la mediumnidad,
Previous editions here.
I have been going through a crisis. These things are sometimes necessary and I am not complaining. I am just taking the time to get better. As part of the therapy, I have been trying to simplify. This does not mean to reduce, or to get rid of stuff, or to do less. Instead, it has meant finding out what is important. Facebook is not important. It demands a coherent image of myself I cannot quite give. When I cannot give it, it results on a barrage of comments asking (dare I say demanding) answers. I feel better having shut those voices, at least for the time being.
Being a performer, I question whether the issue is that I try to present myself as myself when, in reality, it is but a performance, a role if you want. For weeks, since starting reading Kate Zambreno’s Heroines, I have toyed with the idea of autobiographical non-fiction novels, fictionalised autobiographical blogs and any combination of the above jumble of words. Difficult to explain, I know. I am trying to find the fiction in non-fiction, the performance in the everyday. In her website, Zambreno has a blog called Frances Farmer is My Sister, which part of her book is based on. I think it is easier to assimilate something when it has a name, when it has a title. This blog’s title is Laura Gonzalez–Blog. How lame is that? Thinking my burlesque name was part of the process of coming to terms with something and I think it made me a better dancer. When I am La Canelle, I am La Canelle. Un point c’est tout.
Years and years ago, I started a blog on Livejournal, under the name of Femme Letale. I still use that name on twitter, ebay, and other platforms where the rather boring lauragonzalez has already been taken. I am thinking about being Letale a little more of my time, perhaps even here.
Who is Femme Letale? Her beginnings go back to 1990, when Pedro Almodovar was filming ‘Tacones Lejanos‘. Diva Becky del Paramo has twisted problems. Judge Dominguín is investigating the death of her son-in-law, also her former lover. But Dominguín is not what he appears to be. By night, he mutates into a drag queen, singing Becky’s songs on playback and falling in love with her daughter. This drag queen’s artistic name is Femme Letale.
She is not a fatale or a fatality. She is lethal, a police officer, and enforcer. You do know that one of my favourite films ever is Die Hard, right? Letale ventriloquises Becky, she borrows her voice like I borrow many. Her choice is to perform. She is a gay icon, yet, not homosexual herself, complicated, incoherent in melodrama, which makes it all coherent. She overacts, but she also investigates. She can be hysterical when she wants, dress up, wear wigs. She is an introvert extrovert. Both. Yes, both. You can see how she can be therapeutic.
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)
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.
I have never seen more unconscious in my life. I mean, I have read about it, in many books, but this is like the Dodo bird, or the sound of the tree in the forrest. I lay on the couch for many months and my unconscious was there, I suppose, making mischievous gestures like Dora today, behind the person lifting their arms and taking the chorus’ yesses and noes. It all sounds weird, I know, but it is isn’t. Not for me. This, however, was not a breakthrough in the way you are thinking …
The unconscious and the id are not big, or angry, or sexy, or boring or any word you could think of other than unconscious. I saw it for the first time when Dora was in the middle of the circle carefully kept by the rest of us (7). She was doing something I could describe as wavering or bouncing or jittering. Dora gave her a choice: to leave or to stay. Simple. But Dora whined that she did not want a choice. Of course! Her ego dropped and she wanted her cake and eat it. So true, so true. It was a beautiful moment. A real cry of humanity, of everything we are. We always wanted our cake and eat it. We can’t, but that doesn’t make the wanting less powerful.
Every day has been full of beautiful moments; today more than ever because of echoes. Dora tested the boundaries of the group by running, like a child, faster than anyone, to the limits of the strange dance floor. Will you catch me? Will you be able to follow your own rules – to keep me in the centre of the circle while looking at me? Dora tried. And so did Dora, Dora, Dora, Dora, Dora, Dora, and Dora. Amazing consistency. We, the group, did keep to those rules, and once that the support was established (still so simple), it all happened.
The thing is that I can’t remember. Well, I couldn’t, and while I am writing, something has come to me. I kicked a leg, close to someone, and I liked it. It is like that scene in ‘Hot Fuzz’ when the old lady gets kicked in the face and it is so funny. Like ‘You’ve been framed’. Why did I stop? Did I stop? I think I did … Maybe I would have really kicked someone … But then again, they are responsible for not getting too close. Why did I stop the kicking?
Here’s me in a hat, from yesterday:
Oh, and yellow … Ahhhh yellow. I used to hate yellow, mainly due to this incident (long story, for another time, as this is NOT therapy):
And Begoña hated it too, to the point of making her sick, but now she is dead, one she won’t be sick, so I can have yellow if I want to. Isn’t it marvellous? I am crying a bit. I have been wanting to do that every time I said the word yellow. I am not sure what makes me sad, that she died or that she did not allow herself the colour yellow … I can’t imagine denying myself any colours, even beige, or brown. WHHHOOOOOOAAAAA, brown leather … Isn’t it just yummy?
Not remembering disturbs me a bit. Thankfully, I do remember something now, I have caught that little bit of the thread. I wish I could remember everything that had been said, commented, mentioned. Maybe I do, though, although not in words and images. The body is a marvellous thing. Did I tell you that all this came out of the body?
And then when you don’t expect anything at all, you get what you perceive to be all the best opportunities. I have nothing to work on at the moment other than what is happening here and now and, all of a sudden, I got a lovely invitation today to speak of the unconscious.
I said yes, even though I know I can say no. I want to talk of the unconscious. I prefer to dance it, though, or to voice it. But I am tender today so I am going to have to be content with dreaming it for the time being, before we continue tomorrow. If only I could remember!
I am cooking roast chicken and can REALLY smell it. I may need to postpone the dreaming. There is always danger but it can, most times, be dealt with.
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.