Laura Gonzalez


Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society at Middlesex University — 27 May 2010

On the 5th of June, I will be giving an overview of my recent work on seduction at the Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society conference at Middlesex University.

Here’s my abstract, to whet your appetite (if psychoanalysis, culture and society are your thing, of course):

Make me yours: studying the psychodynamics of seduction through works of art

In Fatal Strategies, Jean Baudrillard writes that music and literature are seductive in themselves. Given his later interest in photography and the works of Sophie Calle, it could be argued that seduction is also an attribute of the visual arts. But what makes a work of art seductive? My research is concerned with the relational and psychodynamic aspects of the encounter between the work of art and the viewer; one that, when seduction operates, is characterized by interplay, flow and conflict.

The first step towards disentangling this research problem is to define seduction, a concept that is contingent, ridden with confusion, contradictions and connotative interpretations. Any attempt at pinning down the term, however, shows that it is pervasive and, as a ruling principle, it operates everywhere –especially where efforts to study it are made. The question, then, becomes a methodological one: how might one study seduction as it operates in the encounter with works of art? I put forward a subjective, practice-led approach, comprised of three strands: artistic –in particular photography–, psychoanalytic and writing. All three enact the self-reflexive methodology that is at the core of the contribution my project aims to make, and which is constituted of three steps: recognition, capture and reflection.

In this paper, my own (nearly missed) encounter with a work of art, Marcel Duchamp’s Étant Donnés, and a bold shoe in a New York shop window will be used as props to explain this complex problem. Jacques Lacan’s mysterious objet petit a, the object cause of desire and Freud’s abandonment of the seduction theory will be discussed in the context of these experiences. There will also be the occasional appearances of a detective –who will provide the forensic gaze required of a presentation by a final year PhD student– and other minor characters.

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Exposed at Tate Modern — 27 May 2010


Exposed at Tate Modern

This looks stunning:

Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera

Tate Modern 28 May – 3 October 2010

Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. With photographs from the late nineteenth century to present day, the pictures present a shocking, illuminating and witty perspective on iconic and taboo subjects.

Beginning with the idea of the ‘unseen photographer’, Exposed presents 250 works by celebrated artists and photographers including Brassaï’s erotic Secret Paris of the 1930s images; Weegee’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe; and Nick Ut’s reportage image of children escaping napalm attacks in the Vietnam War. Sex and celebrity is an important part of the exhibition, presenting photographs of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Paris Hilton on her way to prison and the assassination of JFK. Other renowned photographers represented in the show include Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Lee Miller, Helmut Newton and Man Ray.

The UK is now the most surveyed country in the world. We have an obsession with voyeurism, privacy laws, freedom of media, and surveillance – images captured and relayed on camera phones, YouTube or reality TV.

Much of Exposed focuses on surveillance, including works by both amateur and press photographers, and images produced using automatic technology such as CCTV. The issues raised are particularly relevant in the current climate, with topical debates raging around the rights and desires of individuals, terrorism and the increasing availability and use of surveillance. Exposed confronts these issues and their implications head-on.

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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.