Laura Gonzalez

blog

30 Jun 2010

Transmission: HOSPITALITY

I am off to the Transmission: Hospitality conference, my second one this summer and one I am particularly looking forward to, as I will be part of a panel I proposed a few months back and which will be chaired by Dany Nobus. Simon Bacon, a vampiricist I met recently at the Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society conference, Miguel Santos, Allie Carr and Francis Summers, three fabulous artists, and the always interesting Sharon Kivland and Jaspar Joseph-Lester will be there, as well as a host of superb keynote speakers.

Here’s what Nicky Bird, Bran Nicol and I will be discussing on Saturday morning:

ART AND THE STRANGER: LISTENING, SEDUCING, STALKING

How does one relate to whom one doesn’t know? The stranger is all around us; we cross his path many times per day. The position of the stranger is a reversible one: for the other, it is us that take its place. The question has implications in relation to the work of art, as artists have attempted a direct engagement with strangers as part of their practices, or, indirectly, though the encounter of their work with the viewer. The stranger also has significance in the psychoanalytic setting, where the patient reveals her innermost secrets to a stranger, and the analyst invites one to the consulting room, also usually his home. Drawing from a variety of practices, from film and art to literature and psychoanalysis, this panel proposes three approaches to the unknown person, the stranger.

First, through the act of listening, we attempt to recognize ourselves in the stranger, to establish a bond, a relationship with him. Listening, however, is a very complicated endeavour. How can one listen, really listen, to an other? In his writing, Sigmund Freud proposes a technique called evenly-hovering-attention, which aims at shifting the emphasis from the meaning of the words to a more rounded approach to the other’s speech. This paper will draw from collaborative and performative practices, where the work emerges either from a conversation with a person or a group, then unknown, but becoming something else through the engagement, or from a playful and slightly mischievous activity: eavesdropping.

The consequences of being involved in the acts of talking and listening can be very varied, from friendship to love, transference and countertransference –the particular relationship of identifications between analyst and patient. But before these are arrived at, there is another interim stage, which the second paper in this panel will explore: seduction. Attracted by the stranger, we surrender our free will to his mystery. Works of art use diverse techniques to seduce so the second speaker will perform, impersonate, frame and follow –to name but a few strategies– to engage with the strangers in the audience.

But seduction hangs in a fine balance, it is already at the edge of morality. The obsession with a stranger, whom, in a delusional state, one believes one knows, will be the subject of the third paper. The act of stalking is the pursuit of someone as part of an investigation, or with a criminal intent. It involves a multitude of acts and is often the continued return of a rejected proposition –just like the repressed returns. The outcome can, as in the case of Sophie Calle, lead to a nice trip to Venice, a court appearance or, as happened to Agnetha Fältskog, a relationship ending in disaster.

These three papers, with their differing approaches and strategies to engage with the stranger, will make the audience consider their own everyday encounters in, for example, supermarket queues, art installations, trains, therapeutic relationships, lifts.

The full papers will be published on the website or the new Transmission: Annual journal after the event so watch this space!

Posted in Blog, Interesting people, News, PhD, Practice, Psychoanalysis, Seduction, Writing


Leave a Reply

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.