Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation
AHRC Research Fellowship Symposium
at the Anna Freud Centre 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 on the 18th February 2012
Two weeks before the opening of the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, the Freud Museum presented an afternoon symposium for anyone interested in a transdisciplinary encounter across art, psychoanalysis and feminism.
Griselda Pollock’s research has engaged with a series of artistic, cinematic and literary case studies dealing with bereavement, seduction, Holocaust survival, exile, migration and second generation transmitted trauma, in order to explore the proposition that art can be ‘a transport station of trauma’ (Bracha Ettinger). Examining the work of several different artists including Louise Bourgeois, Chantel Akerman and Vera Frenkel, the symposium will use psychoanalytical approaches to trauma in order investigate specific art practices as sites of transformation, blockage, encryption and dangerous failure.
The symposiums aim was to open up a dialogue with clinical practitioners, cultural theorists and artists working in this area in order to ask: Do artists travel away from or towards an encounter with the traces of trauma? Can aesthetic practices teach us anything significant about the possibility of transformation of trauma or the dangers of such a re-encounter? Can art produce what Geoffrey Hartman calls ‘traumatic knowledge’?