Laura Gonzalez


21 Oct 2008

On copying, reproducing and confronting

Teaching a proper course is such a different experience from my experience delivering the PhD training programme, I can not overcome certain aspects of it. Having started my academic career at the top of the degrees pyramid (don’t get excited, that pyramid doesn’t match the salary pyramid) I have missed certain aspects such as curriculum, assessment, learning outcomes, and all that malarkey that the PgCert prepared me for. It makes even less sense when planning my psychoanalysis course. Assessing psychoanalytic thinking in 15 weeks? How? That is just going to undo all the work on the course! Yet, I have to take the position of the master, that one I am going to dismantle on the first day…

Anyway what brought me to think about teaching proper courses is the issue of cohort, something I don’t get with my PhD group. A very interesting manifestation of cohorts is source fads. You know, when suddenly the whole group is reading Benjamin’s Arcades Projects. Okey. Then, last year, it was Latour’s Actor-Network theory. I can barely keep up, but I guess that’s what makes it interesting too. It also translates in practice. At some point last November, students were appropriating. I wonder whether galleries experience these fads and to what extent. They must do. I like to keep up with my students so I did look up on appropriation to find exciting examples – exciting for me and thought provoking for them, of course – and through one of my image researches I found this:


It really is what it looks to be. A copy of Duchamp’s Étant Donnés. Reproducing it is by no means an impossible task, of course, as it is well known that Duchamp left painstakingly precise notes on how to build the tableau vivant/nature morte. Still, some knowledge of geometry, of maths is needed. Technical ability aside, though, why would anyone want to reveal how a magic trick is done? I was complaining that last week’s talk circled too much about meaning; this, around technicalities and how artists work. When, oh, when are we going to confront ourselves as viewers?

This perhaps raises the issue, unpins the viewer from her small cross on the floor, lets her free, loose to wander and find out how things are made. Still, it reflects on the original piece and not what the original piece meant to do. I guess that is my problem too with my student’s source-fads. We’ll see what this year brings me.

Image Credit: Richard Baquié. Sans titre. Étant donnés, 1°) la chute d’eau, 2°) le gaz d’éclairage (Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, 1991)

Posted in Blog, Methodology

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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.