The Unheimlich and Consciousness in Art

Author's Talk: Imogen Racz

Building on research from my recent book Art and the Home: Comfort, Alienation and the Everyday, this talk will consider how post-war sculptors have addressed ideas of the domestic uncanny. In order for these works to have resonance viewers needs to empathetically engage, and allow for a blurring between consciousness and the material world. They project onto the objects and installations their own understanding of reality.

Freud wrote about how relationships with the world and society are veiled by customs and accepted ideas of normality. His essay ‘The Uncanny’ discussed how feelings of dread and unease could be conjured and felt. This was influential with surrealist artists, but what will be discussed here are artists working later, but who show influence of those ideas, including Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatoum and Gregor Schneider.

Art and the Home: Comfort, Alienation and the Everyday is published by I.B.Tauris (January, 2015). Available from the Museum shop.

Dr Imogen Racz is Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at Coventry University. She has published two books and written many articles. Her recent book Art and the Home; Comfort, Alienation and the Everyday, (I. B. Tauris 2015) is a thematic investigation into how post-war artists interpreted the abstract concepts that we have about the home, including enclosure, alienation, sentiment, female space, and the unmade house. Her current research has been focusing on the sculptor and photographer Helen Chadwick, placing her work of the 1980s into its artistic, theoretical and social contexts. This forms part of a larger, ongoing exploration of 1980s sculptural practices in Britain, especially that of women artists.


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