Laura Gonzalez


29 Mar 2014

Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell by Katherine Angel ****

Reading dates: 20 February – 23 March 2014

Being part of reading groups is hard work. You have deadlines, have to read in a way that will enable you to discuss (with a lot of attention) and risk choices of titles that have nothing to do with your life. If you find yourself in this situation, you have joined the wrong reading group. Being part of Sick Sick Sick has made deadlines and reading attentively a pleasure precisely because of the choices of books. These are titles I would never have chosen and yet I have loved every single one of them.

The 22 of us who met on Thursday to discuss Katherine Angel’s book started our contributions with ‘I thought I was not going to like this book but …’ We appreciated the courage it took to write from the personal but to take it beyond. We praised her work on grief; we (I, most certainly) recognised the Mr Pornography talk episode and the lassitude at asking certain questions, especially as a woman. We (I most certainly) was grateful for the breath in the page. We wondered about the editing process, about what was taken out, about the choices of what she gave us; we praised her discipline. Yes, there are problems (problems? maybe questions raised?) with the book, of course: sometimes, it reverts to the binary, there are many stifled discussions, not least about sexuality. I wondered what it was like to read it in relation to Anaïn Nin. But this is a book about when words fail. In it, Katherine dances free and yet, at times, she writes choked (see pages 281 and 330). I really, really understand that.

I don’t want to make demands of this book, I don’t want answers from it about female subjectivity and desire. Through the act of reading, through the encounter, I established a special relationship with it. The book itself, the writing, let me be and think. It had space and a serenity that made me love it for what it is (moving, courageous, pleasurable yet withheld) and what it has given me.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Ornery women, Reading

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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.