Free Association

8 January 2009 | ,

I really like the Freud Museum. For those of us interested in psychoanalysis, it is a magical place. I will always remember when I first stepped inside the hall, the strange feeling of being somewhere I knew. Was that because it looked like a London detached house I perhaps remembered? Maybe. What I thought was just similar to what happened to me when I first visited New York: I knew it, yet, I hadn’t been there before. At the Freud Museum, however, any such feelings got quickly dispelled; in fact, as soon as caught sight of the couch in the consulting room on the ground floor. The closest I can come to describing what happened is that I went back in time, that I confronted some sort of history in front of me, I was there, but I was not there now. Nachträglichkeit, or something.


The thing I love the most of the Freud Museum is that it has contemporary art exhibitions, engaged with the Freudian artefacts. What a phenomenal space to show work! Not any work, of course, as whatever one places there enters a dialogue with the house, with the rooms, with psychoanalysis itself. Nothing further away from a white cube situation. This, however, is how I like art best. I am the one who exhibit in lifts, shop windows and urban underpasses. Sophie Calle, Susan Hiller, Sarah Lucas and Tim Noble/Sue Webster’s names are only some of the few I remember showing there from the top of my head. The list – and the displays – are very impressive, and I have often thought of pieces I wanted to create should I be invited to show there. The space provokes though, like couches, it make me free associate.

Sarah Lucas / Sophie Calle at the Freud Museum, consulting room display

It was the issue of free association that made me write this entry. I was happily siting at my desk, procrastinating about this methodologies chapter I am writing, when a corner of a much-handled piece of paper, hanging out of my filing pile caught my attention. I pulled it from from the middle of the mountain and saw what it was: a Freud Museum bag, from when I bought a book I couldn’t get anywhere else. The bag had a text printed that read:

Sigmund Freud
(1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalysis, left Austria in 1938 to escape Nazi occupation. He was able to bring his antiquities and library to England, where he continued his work and died at 20 Maresfield Gardens, London, which is now the
Freud Museum

Well, it did not just read like that in my head, it read more with this voice:

Now that is a funny free association, don’t you think? I’ll just leave it there for now.

One thought on “Free Association

  1. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The last time I was in London was 1998 and unfortunately Freud’s museum was not on the list of haunts my psyche had requested I visit. I really need schedule another trip there.

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