Laura Gonzalez


18 Mar 2016

Communal Luxury by Kristin Ross*****


Reading dates: 04 February–18 March 2016

Chris chose this book for our March meeting, which took place on the eve of the start of the Paris Commune. I was educated in the French system; I received the reading assignment with a roll of my eyes. OK, the Commune. Let’s do it. I was slow starting the book, huffing and not really engaging with its ideas until, perhaps, the start of chapter 2. Kristin Ross’s work is wonderful, well-written, well-researched and exploring an exciting territory hitherto unknown to me. I had dismissed the Communards as a bunch of idealist anarchists that almost got their way and never thought of their rich ideology around culture, education, ecology and wellbeing. Reclus, Gaillard and his shoes, William Morris and Kropotkin are fantastic characters in the narrative, people one does not hear about often in relation to the Commune (as Neil pointed out, the wikipedia page on the Commune has quite different names forefronted). Her aim is to isolate and expand on what worked, on the legacy after Bloody Week, which, as the rest of the timeline, is not something she goes into. The achievements, the methodology of looking at the past and the ideas of the Commune (especially those uncompromising anti-capitalist and well argued points) were remarkable.

Ross’s analysis is very applicable to our times, even if she explicitly says this is not her ambition. During our meeting, I made the comparison between #RhodesMustfall and the tearing down of the Place Vendôme. Can we return to what made the Commune? Today, on the 145th anniversary of its start, I am most certain than ever that we must.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, DiaMat, 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.