Laura Gonzalez


Psychoanalysis: Phase One Evaluation — 29 Jun 2006

CouchWell, that is it until next September. I have completed the first phase of my analysis and it has given me a substantial amount of material to think about. Psychoanalysis is very different from what I initially thought. Not surprising, since, like art, it is a subject area where id?©es re?ßues are the norm. For instance, one does not lay down on the couch and wait for the analyst‚Äôs question (usually portrayed as ‚Äúso, tell me about your mother‚Äù); one does not listen to interpretations, theoretical ramblings or explanations about the events in one‚Äôs life; one does not exclusively talk about one‚Äôs childhood‚Ķ

Let me explain the process. I knock on the door and J— S— opens and asks me to go through. While I lay in the couch, he closes the door and takes his position in a chair behind my head (that’s right, one does not see the analyst). Then, I start talking and talk for about 50 minutes, with brief interventions by my analyst. These interventions take the form of tying knots, of repeating what I have just said, sometimes in a slightly different way. He usually starts his sentences with: “I think you are saying to me…” or “if I understand correctly…”. At the end of the session, J— S— will say: “this is all the time we have for today”. It is up to me to take or discard issues or topics in each session and I must fully take the risk of facing my own denials frontally, if the analyst (or a slip of my tongue) decides to link things and put two and two together.

One of the correct received ideas of analysis is the emphasis on dream material. However, the hefty interpretations of things meaning this or that are not quite accurate. The analyst and analysand work through the material together and look for interpretations within the analysand’s discourse. There are no book answers or inspired explanations that will make everything all right. Even though he is the subject-supposed-to-know, the analyst does not know about the analysand’s traumas. Things are worked through together and knowledge (I hope) is arrived at in that way; that is why an analysis takes so long and can be so painful and frustrating.

Transference has been the most interesting part of my analysis, so far. Even though I am aware of the term and its theoretical underpinnings, feeling its full strength was a real surprise. It is an inevitable part of the process. I feel it takes the place of a ritual, a contract between analyst and analysand. The thought of it, the explicit and non-explicit (or hmmmms) instances when it is referred to in the process, also act as a manipulative tool and create a full set of expectations and a meaningful void (am I really going to miss analysis over the break or do I already miss analysis because J‚Äî S‚Äî asked me about if I was going to?). Chicken and egg in transference… The relationship between analyst and analysand is not less complex than that of viewer and work, however. The problem, as with almost anything in life, is one of time to discover, learn, love, hate the analyst and the work. It takes time for the analyst/work to take the real position of a and for the viewer to work through it.

Analysis has an impact on one‚Äôs life. It is inevitable. My own analysis it has made me more aware of certain aspects of my life I tried to conceal, it has brought them to the fore and I now know I must deal with them. That is why I am going through the process. My original demande d’analyse has substantially changes throughout these 10 weeks: I thought my reason for undertaking analysis was my PhD when, in fact, I may be using my PhD to resolve other more essential matters (I am beginning top explore why I have chosen “seduction” as the topic of my investigation). The objective and the subjective have been slightly blurred and, as in any mode of analysis, I am breaking the self into pieces and trying to work out what these are like, how they interact together, whether they belong to the same artefact and where am I going to find the glue to put everything back together again…

The clinical diary has somewhat helped toward the process by providing an analysis of analysis, paradoxical as it may sound, I have developed a little methodological tool to record and archive the process. First, during the train journey back, I record the session, through bullet point thoughts on a notebook. When I get home, I write more narrative pieces built on the initial bullet points. These pieces are around 700-word length and contain a description of topics talked about during the session, links to theoretical concepts and reflection about the process and my PhD topic. After writing the pieces, I draw out a few keywords to help me search through the database of entries. The process culminates with a circular motion as, in each train journey to my psychoanalytic appointment, I prepare by reading the bullet points from the last session. I am still not sure whether I write the narrative entries of the diary in the most appropriate way. This has been a learning process about writing practice itself, one which has been affected by the subjective/objective issue. I still feel my entries are too personal and need to be a bit more reflective, relating what happens to what I read and think about seduction, to the analogy between art and analysis I am beginning to explore. I suppose I am in the middle of gathering material and of developing a relationship with my analyst. There is a definite change in the latter entries… However, the personal still seduces me because it represents a strong riddle, a problem, or a challenge (challenge is, according to Baudrillard, what is at the heart of seduction, not desire). However, even though I am a seduced subject, I am not the object of my study.

What is not yet resolved is the link between psychoanalysis and my PhD in Art and Design Seduction. An analogy (one of the many possible ones) between the two is getting clearer for me and this is helping me to write the Swansea paper. Both psychoanalysis and art are highly seductive practices that depend on a ritualistic context that feeds itself on appearances (the couch, the white cube, the distance between the viewer and the work, the position of the analyst, conventions of both spaces). I still think that In the Place of an Object (JCFAR Volume 12, Special Issue 2000), together with Bruce Fink and Lacan’s discourse of the analyst will be crucial to this project. The key will be replicating some of what happened at the CFAR by putting, again, the object in the position of the analyst, letting it become Objet Petit a. My proposed contribution to the findings and discussions of the CFAR show and writings is that the objects will be created (trained?) to take the position of the analyst and the relationship between object and viewer/analysand will be monitored and evaluated.

One of the main problems I see looming is that of avoiding over-killing a topic that needs freedom in order to exist and operate, whilst, at the same time, carrying out a rigorous and systematic investigation. Baudrillard already antagonizes seduction and production and speaks of the impossibility of ‚Äúproducing‚Äù seduction. As someone said to me, I may only be able to manage a strategy to catch a glimpse of seduction‚Ķ like in a analysis, if the situation is too metalinguistic, too solipsistic, too self-referential, one goes round and round in circles and gets lost (hence why psychoanalytic theory does not come up in my sessions…).

Like art practice, like a PhD degree, one’s analysis is a long journey. My motivation and commitment are there for all three.

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Drawing as a mode of enquiry — 29 Jun 2006

Betty Boo

Character skeletons by Michael Paulus found in Dadanoias

There is a strange reversibility in the purpose of his drawings, a cross purpose in trying to give a drawing (or cartoon) a human skeleton. A contradiction… I am not sure if I like it or if it is unbearably smug…

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On being an angel — 23 Jun 2006

I may be making flimsy connections here but yesterday, in that Alpha state we all go through before dropping to sleep, in that state of utter clarity and receptiveness, Francesca Woodman’s On being an angel came to my mind and supperimposed itself to Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even. (Oh God, that “even” seduces me, it’s driving me mad!)

On being an angel Large Glass

Think about it: Francesca could be the bride, who has been stripped bare with her open mouth ready to let the milky way and pistons out, and many of the other elements scaterred in the photographic plane (umbrella, shelf…) the bachelors. The chocolate grinder, outside of the composition, may be the sun moving, grinding and the sleith could be that strange piece of equipment on the left hand side (same position as in Duchamp’ work!)

For a quick description of The Bride…‘s main compositional elements see Suquet’s diagramme below:

The two images also share a strange spacial construction, as she is upside down to us and the image is cropped in and cut into sections by the sun… It makes frightful sense to me…

Woodman’s image courtesy of Eva Rus, who wrote this interesting essay about Francesca Woodman

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Shoes, mirrors and net dresses — 21 Jun 2006

I am reading Baudrillard’s The ecstasy of communication, by far the lightest of his books. I can say I am even enjoying it. While reading it, I can’t take this piece off my mind. This is my favourite 2006 Degree Show piece so far… Its mirrors, its nostalgia, its absence are inescapable… A riddle, a challenge, just that which is at the heart of seduction.

degree show
Leah Avril Gourley
BA(Hons ) Fine Art Sculpture
The Glasgow School of Art

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Mischievous — 21 Jun 2006

When no one was looking, I loaded this page… Laura Gonzalez in the degree show…

LG site

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Seducers — 18 Jun 2006

Naia del Castillo, Seductor. Photograph, Cibachrome, Edition 1/10, 103 cm x 103 cm, 2002. Artium Collection, Spain.

Naia del Castillo, Cortejo. Photograph, Cibachrome, Edition 7/10, 100 cm x 76 cm, 2002. Artium Collection, Spain.

Naia del Castillo, Corral. Photograph, Cibachrome, Edition 1/10, 87 cm x 100 cm, 2004. Artium Collection, Spain.

Naia del Castillo, Corral. Lipsticks, 130 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm, 2004. Artium Collection, Spain.

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Felix in Venice — 18 Jun 2006

This is excellent news! I suppose this means that, if I was in two minds about attending my third Biennale, Felix might have swayed the lever into the yes position.

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The split — 11 Jun 2006

I want to paste this quote from the magnificent K-Punk journal because I suspect I am going to want to refer to it later:

Deleuze proclaims that the ‘only enemy is two’. He understoods perfectly well that a split is involved but is unable to grant any ontological specificity to the concept of the split, and rushes to reduce it to a dualism: ‘the source of dualism, it seems to me… is this flattening of all statements of thought, precisely, by this speculative, Oedipal apparatus in which the statement, on the one hand, is related to the subject, to a subject, and on the other hand, and simultaneously, the subject is split into a subject of the statement and the subject of enunciation.’ (By contrast with Deleuze, the Irigarayan concept of the ‘not one’ – with its Imaginary figuration as the lips which are neither one nor two – does grant ontological consistency to the split.) Perhaps we can oppose the Lacanian spaltung to the Deleuzian ‘between’; whereas the between takes its place in the interstitial gap between unities, the spaltung breaks unities into less than one (there is no possibility of unification) and more than one (the subject is always doubled, which is not to say dual).

The split (Lacanian, Deleuzian and Irigarayan) is a subject that fascinates me as it defies logic, mathematics and even dialectics. “1??2=1” is a seductive thought, in the same way as the luxury equation, developped by Sally Mara, alias Raymond Queneau (“1+1=32”), leads thoughts astray. An enigma (like the analyst); a teaser; a riddle (like the “even” in The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even) ‚Äîperhaps a product of appearances as well‚Äî is what keeps my desire for knowledge (all desire is a desire for knowledge) in constant flow.

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Speak with your own voice — 9 Jun 2006

My analysis is beginning to go into that dark place we all have and feel scared to talk about. Transference, of course, is developing at the same time and I am beginning to feel a kind of tenderness for this man, similar to what one might feel for a father figure. This is enhanced by the fact that I am telling him things I have never told anyone, things bottled up within me for a long time. The fact that I cannot see him while I talk really has an effect on my memory, and episodes I thought were not stored within me suddenly come up to the surface. Quite scary sometimes (I fear a passage a l’acte); but also quite productive.

I enjoy writing my clinical diary. I am the kind of person for whom analysis can work. I am not afraid of confronting the fact that I may have been lying to myself for a very long time (a requisite for undergoing analysis, I think); I am not afraid of digging down or of spending a long time and much money in this activity.

When little breakthroughs occur, it seems to me that, somewhere, some order has been restored. The intensity and acute self-consciousness make colours more vivid. I mean it literally: the reds, the blues, and the greens. It is amazing what the strict, law abiding symbolic order can do to someone…

Analysis is also supporting me to establish a more useful parallel with art. The fact that I have found what probably will be one of the most important texts for my PhD also helps. JCFAR’s Special Issue 2000, entitled “In the place of an object”, is a collection of essays and images that think about psychoanalysis. The works of the exhibitions address Jacques Lacan proposition that the work of art occupies the place of the analyst. Art and analysis are not the same, I know. The analogy requires careful work and consideration. There is a wealth of literature out there exploring this and I am just beginning to tap into it (Samuels, JCFAR, Lucy Holmes’s work, Parveen Adams…). I think however, that the exploration of the correspondences between the two is a useful way of building an understanding of seduction, of calling it into presence, of allowing us to glimpse a strategy for considering the effects of seduction (in Alan Cholodenko’s words), the fact that it leads everything astray, including the little Spanish researcher interested in it.

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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.