Wed, Apr 22, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Sometimes art is just art

Jane McAdam Freud will discuss Sigmund Freud and the relationship between art and psychoanalysis in a lecture this Saturday

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

TT: Did [the residency] enable you to see your art in a new light?

JMF: Oddly it cured me of my addiction and as a result I was … free to produce works in any/all dimensions and media. It was important for me to know that the precedent for my predilection came from my great-grandfather. His blood seemed to be singing in my veins at least as far as our desire for sculpture was concerned. He collected sculpture and I make sculpture …

It enabled me to make art in a freer way — that is, without the unexplained restrictions. I feel that my art is less anal now and I prefer the relationship I have with my working processes.

TT: How did these objects help you connect to those artists of the past?

JMF: Just being with his ancient objects helped me familiarize myself with them. Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Chinese ancient sculpture surrounded me for 20 months. This itself was an education. It is rare to see such objects outside of a museum setting. It is even rarer that one gets the opportunity to handle such objects. I did this with many of the objects for long periods of time, scrutinizing and drawing them. I understand ancient sculpture in a way I could only have dreamt of before.

To place my sculpture in my own past, in my ancestral home alongside their precedents was a rooting experience for me and for my art.

TT: Which of your great-grandfather’s theories has played an important role in your work?

JMF: Sublimation is interesting as it is Freud’s theory of art as a defense mechanism. Sublimation is one way of dealing with conflicting feelings, which can in some cases lead to neurosis. Sublimation is a type of defense mechanism to prevent mental conflict becoming too acute. It is a channeling of the sex drive into achievements like making art, writing poetry, science etc — a socially acceptable way of dealing with these drives where displacement serves a higher cultural purpose, one that is socially acceptable.

TT: You mention that the processes of psychoanalysis and of art make use of the unconscious. Please expand on what you mean by the unconscious and discuss its relationship to the process of creating your art.

JMF: There are two terms used by Freud. One is the “subconscious,” and this refers to information that can be recalled albeit with difficulty. The other is “unconscious,” referring to repressed information that is, for all intents and purposes, forgotten. By unconscious I mean unknown, once known, hidden knowledge, repressed knowledge. I think artists use this knowledge and the viewer taps into it in his/her engagement with art.

TT: What of art in a more general sense?

JMF: Freud’s recognition of the unconscious was very important for the comprehension, growth and development of contemporary art in general. As a result my art can exist and develop. I can make conceptual art. It is socially and culturally acceptable. In fact I feel that Freud, with his theory of the unconscious, opened the doors to conceptual art practice and this is very important for me as conceptual art is the movement I align myself to.

TT: Who are your artistic influences?

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