Laura Gonzalez


Objects of desire (and seduction) — 30 Sep 2006

From Office

Ambiguous shoes, harmless pumps with ankle straps reminiscent of S&M garments. Not one strap, but two. Angelical, innocent, and slightly perverse; reversible, challenging, weak and weakening.

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One of the parallels between art and psychoanalysis — 29 Sep 2006

Art and psychoanalysis are practices of the impossible on the path of initiation to the mystery, the beyond discourse. Their search is for a pure language, ideally coinciding with the Thing itself; not a familiar reflection of ourselves but a going towards the most foreign and intimate lnd. And reaching it […] is impossible.

Benvenuto, B (2000) The Impossible. In Kivland, S & du Ry, M. In the Place of an Object. Journal of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, Volume 12, Special Issue 2000. p. 59

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Objects in Waiting — 28 Sep 2006

Curated by Tom Newell and Penny Whitehead

End Gallery, Psalter Lane Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, S11 8UZ.
Private view Wed 18 Oct 7-9pm, exhibition open to the public 19-26 Oct 2006
10-6 weekdays, 10-5 Saturdays, 1-6 Sundays
The curators in conversation Thu 26 Oct 4pm

An exhibition of objects that were found or bought with the particular thought or intention to one day use in the making of an artwork. However, days or months or even years have passed, and still no use for these objects has been found. Perhaps the objects have gained a status whereby they have become too important to combine with anything else. If this is so, consider the possibility that these objects, which have the potential to be elements of an artwork, could in fact be exhibited as works of art themselves. The objects in question may not necessarily be material; they could be a source of inspiration or a starting point for a work that was never realised.

In curating Objects in Waiting, we hope to provide an opportunity for artists to unburden themselves of something which may have taunted them from a corner of the studio for years.

This are the objects that first seduced me and then haunted me for years:

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The veil of seduction — 24 Sep 2006

From the John Moores 24 Exhibition of contemporary painting 2006, at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool:

Jeff McMillan, The Seducer, Oil on found painting, 51 x 61.5cm, 2005

Artist Statement

For many years I have collected second-hand oil paintings from boot sales and thrift shops. These form a curious compendium of subjects and styles. It’s only in the last couple of years that this collection has made its way into my studio to become a material part of the work.

‘The Seducer’ was made by submerging a found painting on canvas into a large container of yellow oil paint. My intention was to perform the simplest of actions, a minimal edit that might create ambiguity.

In this way I want to acknowledge the cannibalistic perversity of making a painting at this nihilistic point in history while at the same time using this viscous, highly chromatic medium to attempt to create a thing of beauty.

Elaine Brown, Lace and snake’s skin, Oil on gesso on boards, 46 x 30cm, 2005

Artist Statement

My paintings fall into the genre of still life. I am interested in the way an object can become resonant with meaning. The desire to fix the ephemeral nature of memories and emotional attachments underlies the work. Drawn to things which are inherently symbolic – personally or collectively – painting presents the place where, intuitively and deliberately, through assembly and depiction, I can manipulate their interpretations and create a scenario.

The representation of time and involvement through the process of making, visually apparent in painting and drawing, makes an intimate connection between the viewer, the artist and the object. The end point isn’t fixed at the start of each painting but through the process of rendering, of doing and undoing, the final image emerges. The paintings are not an illustration of a thought but rather part of an ongoing dialogue.

‘Lace and Snake‚Äôs Skin’ is a diptych although each panel could exist alone. Seen together they are unified by the gaze of the viewer. I have kept both objects for some years – placed in similar territories there are many parallels and polarities that draw them together and pull them apart.

I see, experience and recognize recognize seduction in the second one of these artworks, even though the first painting, according to its title and the artist’s statement, deals with the seducer explicitly. I have been reading about art and the act on unveiling and wonder whether McMillan’s painting deals with the act-game of hidding and revealing in a direct way: a found painting is dipped in yellow oil pain, covering most of it; the painting is them, for all I can see, exhibited upside down. The viewer is faced with a series of obstacles that are tangible, identifiable.

Elaine Brown’s dyptich, however, is more subtle. The relationshp between the two paintings is not clear and neither is the arrangement of the polymorphous objects she chose (lace and snake skin). Like a Rorschach inkblot test, they could be read in a veriety of ways. I saw breats in the first one, that first and foremost object of desire, and the fact that the painting depicted lace only helped to reinforced by mental image. The second one didn’t lend itself to any specific object but was imbued with a sense of danger, something self-destructive. A snake embodying the devil was the first seducer.

In both of them, whether explicit or not, there is a veil drawn, a veil waiting to be lifted by the viewer. But these two veils are very different. Could it be that male and female seductions are different?

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Laura’s Dora — 22 Sep 2006

Freud's screamI am beginning to have doubts about psychoanalysis as a therapy. As a practice, it is still relevant to the aims of my research but the questions is, how long do I need to commit myself to treatment if I only want to find out how about the context in which treatment occurs.

I simply did not want to talk in today’s session. What does one do in that situation? Spend ¬£40 to lay on a couch and be silent? The fact that I talked non-stop, in a superficial and detached manner points the finger at the heart of my problem: my relationship to the Big Other and the relegation of my own desire. That, of course, is a self-diagnosis by someone that knows very little about psychoanalysis and even less about herself; or so it seems. The second uncomfortable moment came when I tried to make sense of the 11 sessions J‚Äî S‚Äî and I have been through by hinting at the fact that what I may be experiencing could be called hysteric symptoms. Surprisingly, I got an assertive answer, almost followed by a disclaimer. I confessed I had been reading Dora and perhaps, as an impressionable person, I had internalised some of the symptoms in my want for answers. J‚Äî S‚Äî said (kindly and calmly) that Dora was written very early on, very many studies and theories have followed this initial analysis.

What got me, like 10,000 volts electricity, wasthe fact that I am going to have to pick up these pieces in next week’s session. I seem to be opening more wounds than curing them. My symptoms remain the same and I feel I am going round and round in circles. I understand that psychoanalytic treatment requires time and commitment but what dawn on me yesterday was the fact that I may not be able to give precisely that at this stage (let alone the money side).

When my demande d’analyse shifted from the PhD towards my symptoms, I think I held hope for cure. The hope has now faded, leaving an untidy, arduous, rocky road of work to do to get o an unknown destination. Its funny that, knowing what I did about the clinical aspects of psychoanalysis, I thought my case was different… I’ll give treatment a chance, I’ll stop reading Dora, but stopping treatment also appears as one of the possible courses of action.

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Holiday footwear — 9 Sep 2006

My recent 2-week holiday in Spain was mainly taken up by two activities: resting and thinking about shoes. Since talking about the former would probably make me tired again, I will concentrate on the latter. The train of thought started during a day-trip to San Sebastian, where N‚Äî and I witnessed a wonderfully professional street tango. If a few years ago I created a piece of work entitled “My life is like an Argentinean tango” is because it is in tango -with its melodramatic music; its sensual dance; its black, white and red colour scheme; and its shoes- where most of my fantasies reside.

Needless to say, the female tango dancer in San Sebastian had exquisit shoes, just battered enough from dancing:

That got me going. When I returned somewhere linked to the world wide web, I felt the need to get properly initiated into the propocols of Tango. I discovered that Glasgow is very good for courses and practicas. Information about where to get suitable footwear to spin and lift was also provided. I found heaven: heaven is where you can buy, amongst many other pairs of specially fitted shoes, the Yanella model. Recognize them? However, it is always dangerous to get what you desire.

One’s desires are not configured out of thin air. My mother firmly believes that, if she hasn’t bought me something, she hasn’t loved me enough. The shopping usually involves shoes as, given that my feet are a prudent size one, I get them when and where I can. My mother has the patience of a saint and the determination of a physics nobel price winner when it comes to small size, shoe-buying perseverance and, winter being round the corner and Scotland too far away from her, she bought me my first 2007 winter boots. Cold colour, round toe and elegant details is the talk of next season.

My new boots make me consider the role of shoes in contemporary arts practice and, of course, Naia del Castillo’s work had to feature. Stimulating photographs, beautiful boots:

Naia del Castillo, Cortejo

Adam Chodzko, in his usual witty, tragic way, thinks through the more conceptual aspects of shoes. Could we be Carrie if we bought some Manolos?
impractical shoes
Right:Adam Chodzko, M-path. Left: Phoebe’s “impractical” shoes

After all that thinking, I returned home to find a pink envelope. Inside the pink envelope, Phoebe had sent me some impractical shoes. These reminded me that impracticality is, indeed, a desirable characteristic when it comes to seductive shoes.


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Madonna and adandonement — 1 Sep 2006

Finally, one of my favorite paintings has returned home to the Munch Museum in Oslo. I have always loved this Madonna: its nudity and, more than anything, its face, which I regard as a combination of Manet’s Olympia and the abandonement of Bernini’s St Teresa.

But Munch’s virgin is a lot more than a mystic in an ecstatic position towards God. The Madonna is a sexual being, aware of her body and what that may stir in men/women, aware of her desire. She is a seductive challenge. This Madonna and her background torment are more akin to the Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Eve that fell for the Devil’s tricks, the first seducee. A more clever Madonna, if you ask me, aware both of mind and body, cunning enough to strategize, to know what she wants and lose herself in it. A Madonna with a sentient body, with pleasure and with whom, in her womanhood, I am able to identify.


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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.