In February 2021, the Freud Museum hosted eighteen RCA Sculpture students in an online residency. Here, RCA tutor Melanie Jackson introduces their project.
Our relations with self, objects and screens have been thrown into sharp new relief over the last year. In art schools, which were already rich with speculation on the relation between object, subject and agency, a whole new set of conditions came into play as we were forced to communicate entirely online.
Psychoanalytic ‘objects’ are of course about relationships. Objects are usually persons, parts of persons, or symbols of them. This project – a week’s residency and a week’s response time – culminates in this online exhibition of the work by 18 postgraduate artists studying MA Sculpture. In it we consider objects in the widest interdisciplinary use of the term.
The opportunity to consider the relations between home space and work space, between objects present and objects on screen, in collaboration with the Freud Museum has been a delight. It comes while we are embedded in our own domestic spaces, which has had an intensity over the last 12 months like never before. The way that objects and spaces profoundly connect with us via screens is reflected in the psychic plasticity of Freud’s work on dreams. In combination with his avid collecting of material objects and antiquities (and their on-screen digitization), this has been fertile territory for our18 artists.
The work in this online exhibition, made as a response to our access to the museum, is resonant and timely.
Also providing invaluable insight for the artists during the project has been the expertise of the staff. Their granular knowledge of Freud’s life, his psychoanalytic theories, his objects and the house that he lived and worked in along with his analyst daughter Anna Freud have provided and enriched discussions.
In this moment, structural inequalities between people have been revealed as ever more acute. We long for touch and close contact when those are the very things made dangerous by disease transmission, and representation and language has become so critical to provide and bridge these relations.
The work in this online exhibition, made as a response to our access to the museum, is resonant and timely. Trauma, reconciliation, loss, potential, a new negotiation of intimacy and haptic relations emerge through these interventions with objects, the house, and its language.
It seems to me that the hybrid monsters which populate the collective imaginary, and which congregate in a battle of screens and objects, need subjects to determine the conditions of their own objecthood rather than having this imposed on them as either a matter of fact or an infinity of associative relations without limits. The question to be asked is whether the gathering of ‘quasi-objects’ and ‘quasi-subjects’ might allow instead for a different kind of participation, one in which the life of things is shared rather than subdued or feared.
Maria Walsh, I Object, Art Monthly, October 2013
Each artist has an active button on the home screen of the virtual tour of 20 Maresfield Gardens. In addition, artist Roy Claire Potter has contributed text written from and with the tools and structure of their workshop. This was delivered to students as part of the residency, using words generated by and with the museum. Artist and Writer Ameera Kawash (PhD Candidate RCA) also contributes a work in response by the seminar she delivered as part of the event.
Melanie Jackson, Tutor
Our warm thanks to Carol Seigel, Director, Ivan Ward Deputy Director/Head of Learning, Bryony Davies, Curator, and Stefan Marianski, Education Officer for their expertise, knowledge and generosity.
Visit the online exhibition here: https://iobject.xyz