Laura Gonzalez

blog

21 Apr 2005

Interviewed

The interview, or rather the proposal Viva process, was unexpected before it even started. On Monday, I received a phone call from Chelsea College of Art and Design, asking me if I would go for a interview on Wednesday. Of that very same week. I had been waiting 5 months and everything happened within 3 days. Of course I accepted.

But after a demanding day of teaching and being observed, I felt utterly unprepared. The night before, after a surname misspelling problems, I finally received the invitation letter. A presentation of my work wasn’t mentioned and at 10.30 the night before I threw a few archival images into a PowerPoint and played around with different orders. Starck, Man Ray and Vicky were there to assure me I did not dream all these seduction.

When I got there, they were running late. One of the interviewers had to come from Oxford and was very delayed. I welcomed the cup of coffee in the student canteen. Jordan’s book on designing pleasurable products would help me to focus. When I was asked to go up, they sat me on a chair outside the interview room, while they discussed my proposal and agreed questions. The worse thing was that I could hear bits of sentences I did not want to:

…history… and psychology… but she… no, she… I think she… interesting but I don’t understand… I can’t quite get… and psychology… she…

I missed all the important bits and was getting fearful that perhaps they did not understand what I wanted to do. I finally met them. I had done the supervisors course with one of the interviewers two years ago and that interviewer wasn’t kind to me or to my proposed research, perhaps because they themselves are a member of staff doing a PhD. A PhD I had scrutinised on previous occasions.

I thought the interview was going to revolve around research competence and my ability to undertake what I was proposing. Instead, everything was about what I was proposing. I started with context and question. Why did I want to do a PhD? Because I wanted to propose different models to approach the study of seduction in Fine Art, as all the previous models start from a tautological standpoint. I wasn’t as articulate as I hoped. It is difficult to talk about one wants to do when that is an unknown quantity. I tried to lay out my methods very clearly and methodically and my interest in the interface between art and design provoked 2 opposed reactions.

Within 10 minutes, I felt I had won one of the interviewers over whereas the other one was even further away from me. The latter comes from a belief that the creative process is unique and can’t be scrutinised. It is the outcome, the artifact and its influences that can be scrutinised. I was proposing to make objects and give them to a focus group that would then tear them apart and make me change aspects of my practice. The former had to come into my rescue and ask me if I thought of Art as a cultural product, which, for the purposes of my research, I do.

I am not sure if intellectual rigours gets someone a place in a course, but considering the time I had to prepare and the fact that the interview resembled an exam, I couldn’t have done better. For the first time, my research felt like a problem rather than a crystallized piece of writing. I am grateful to my students who put me on a enquiring mode the day before, when I presented a text in our Drawing Reading Group. As I was going out, the kind interviewer asked me to leave my details and my funding application on the research office. He then asked me if I knew the work of Neil Cummings, which I vaguely did and liked. That afternoon, looking at his online CV, I found out he lectures at Chelsea. Thinking that they were assigning me a supervisor was a very nice omen.

Posted in Blog, PhD


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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.