Laura Gonzalez


8 Feb 2009

Learning through [not] teaching

I have completed 3 weeks of the 15-week “Psychoanalysis in Art and Culture” course for postgraduates I devised last Autumn. Focus on my own subject area won over my busy schedule and despite lacking time above anything else, I agreed to fit this in. I tend to stretch towards the impossible, sometimes to my own detriment, but I think one regrets more what one doesn’t do than what one does. Us Spaniards have an expression for this: que me quiten lo bailao (kind of “you can’t take off me what I have danced”).

The course has been as interesting as I had hoped for, thanks to a great bunch of students. Still, the sessions take far too long to put together, anxious as I am to make complex concepts clear, to bridge between two disciplines and to make it exciting, relevant, useful. Teaching psychoanalytic thinking is not teaching psychoanalysis and I have to remind myself of that every time I over-theorise.

My last session was not satisfactory, at least to myself, but I did not expect otherwise. I had to factor in a class where I would develop a shared set of meanings so I know that, when we talk about the ego, we talk about the same ego. It did not work because I talked too much. Like in analysis, I have to give the course’s ownership to my students, let them work it out and let them work through it, as it were. Only this way I can be coherent with the curriculum, which I ask them to devise, mirroring more or less a client-service approach instead of the Discourse of the University. Just a little example of one of my recent teaching experiments, which, so far, has made the whole thing more exciting for me. After 5 years teaching generic research skills, I have become jaded of the topic and I would hate for psychoanalysis to follow the same path.

So now that the difficult class is over, I hope to enjoy myself more. I have psychopathologies, construction of the subject, detectives, family romances, transference, interpretation, self-analysis and afterwardness to get through. All favourites of mine. On this journey, I also hope, by letting them talk, to learn: something about myself (as a teacher, as an artist), and about art and psychoanalysis. This has already happened during the three weeks of the course we have just completed. A golden moment was when one of the students brought “The Century of the Self” by Adam Curtis, into the Eye of My Consciousness, from the pleasant Pre-Conscious drawing room it had been laying about. See for yourselves:

Posted in Blog, Peripheral thoughts, Psychoanalysis

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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.