Laura Gonzalez

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Precarious Communism by Richard Gilman-Opalsky **** — 19 May 2014

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Reading dates: 05 – 17 May 2014

We read Precarious Communinism for our Dialectical Materialism bookgroup. The discussion was lively but, at times felt as if we read four different books. Perhaps this is always the case with reading groups. I really liked Gilman-Opalsky’s work. If anything, it is inspiring, informative, wide ranging (perhaps a little too much) and full of really interesting references. I never heard of Kristeva’s Revolt, She Said and now I have a copy.

The book is predicated on a Situationist détournement of Marx’s Communist Manifesto. This is the only aspect of the book that does not work for me. I did not see a détournement, nor know how détourning a classic text can be defferent from re-reading, or reading á la letter — like Lacan did with Freud, subverting him. Gilman-Opalsky explains this methodology in the introduction and then it somehow evaporates.

Yet, the work is a solid critique of capitalism (especially of what work does to us), a call to personal responsibility through an ethics of the precarious communist, who is many unorganised things but who seeks dignity, autonomy and human association. They key, he writes at the close of this short book, is in the unwinding after work, in the uncoiling of a potentially threatening force of unrest in search of a different, more human, logos.

A precarious communist also knows in her most meaningful lived experiences — perhaps in love, in tragedy, in playing with a young child, in the creative moments of art or recreation, in the euphoria of musical bliss, in the awe of visual vistas, and of human intimacy — that the logic of capital is absent there, for such experiences have a different logos altogether. (p. 74)

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Lacan in spite of everything by Élisabeth Roudinesco **** — 18 May 2014

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Reading dates: 23 April – 17 May 2014

I very much enjoyed reading Roudinesco’s appraisal of Lacan’s legacy, thirty years after his death. Only a psychoanalysis historian like her, author of Lacan’s biography, could take such a challenge in 224 pages. She gives an admirable account of Lacan’s ideas in short chapters, focusing on the family, womanhood and sexuality, Antigone, and his love of objects, for example. She mixes his life, his reception and his thought with his context thirty years ago and what it means now. She does this in a clear and accessible way. Yet, this book is not for the faint hearted. It is, I think, for the well-read Lacanian scholar. This is what made me enjoy it. I understood the familiar Lacanian turn of phrase, the inferences, in short, what Dany Nobus calls Lacanese. Without this, the book would be hard work, I think, quirky perhaps, but also impenetrable. For the Lacanians among us, it is provocative but measured, critical in a soft way and a good overview in a few pages. It reads like a review of his oeuvre and, as such, made me want to go back to the master (and subvert him), to re-read Encore, Seminar VII, and Kant avec Sade.

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie *** — 17 May 2014

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Reading dates: 24 April – 16 May 2014

I read a lot of Agatha Christie in my teens. I considered her a genre of her own. But youth is always premature and reflection-less and my love of her began to wane as I read modern crime fiction. Reading P.D. James’ Talking about Detective Fiction also had a hand in the demise of my admiration, as she showed how the golden age of the genre is a pure exercise in form, not grounded in reality or the social (which is not true for many modern crime writers). The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is ok. It is a famous example of detective fiction because of one thing only, one I cannot reveal because it would spoil it for you. That punchline, a trait for which Christie became famous, is innovative but vapid. A little bit like liquid nitrogen in food. I have never seen The Mousetrap but, having recently watched the awesome Witness for the Prosecution, I wonder if her material works better in a form containing time and movement than on the page. Not that reading doesn’t have movement and time, but it is too disperse. Theatre, TV or film would contain and force decisions.

Monsieur Poirot and his little grey cells also leave me cold. He is patronising and pompous, both of which I forgive in Suchet’s portrayal, perhaps because of the time-based element. The book and Poirot lack visual, depth, gut. The structure is neat and lovely, but I have always preferred Wilhelm de Kooning to Mondrian.

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Scottish Dance Theatre’s SisGo at Tramway — 8 May 2014

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Last week and this, I have been rehearsing with Scottish Dance Theatre as part of their SisGo production at Tramway. We open this Friday 9th May and we will also be dancing on Saturday 10th May. The show is at 7.30 on both days and I can tell you it is a dance experience you will not forget. If you are in Glasgow, come and see it. The music is spectacular, you will see a choreography called ‘Reverse Thriller’ and there is a lot of glow in the dark excitement. You also get to take your shoes off and share the same space as dancers. Not for the faint hearted!

Fleur Darkin’s SisGo from Scottish Dance Theatre on Vimeo.

If you come, follow the instruction anyone tells you at any time in the show, especially if it is to move or stand somewhere. I promise you will not be asked to backflip or somersault, and there are no individual solos planned for the audience.

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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.