Totemic Festival

5 July 2013 to 7 July 2013

A weekend of performance art, live art, interventions, lectures and film celebrating the centenary of Freud’s Totem and Taboo.

On 30 June 1913, Ferenczi, Jones, Sachs & Rank held a dinner for Sigmund Freud to honour his controversial work ‘Totem and Taboo’, which they called the ‘Totemic Festival’. This weekend the Freud Museum will hold a ‘Totemic Festival’ of its own, marking the centenary – we do hope you will join the celebrations. The weather forecast is good, so bring sunglasses, friends and picnic blankets!

Encounter contemporary explorations of the text ranging from the delicate and the profound, to the surreal and the absurd, from 30 British and international artists, performers and speakers. All set in the unique surroundings of Sigmund and Anna Freud’s final home and garden. See below for a few examples of what to expect, or view the Festival Programme.

Damián Ortega‘s Apestraction exhibition will also be open for viewing all weekend too.

Live performances and screenings from:

Auntie Maureen | Katherine Araniello | David Blandy | Jemima Burrill with Mary Prestidge | Brian Catling | Jack Catling | Marcus Coates | Sarah Grainger-Jones | Hunt and Darton Cafe | Poppy Jackson | Alastair MacLennan | Kate Mahony | Jordan McKenzie | Kirsten Norrie | Simon Raven | Benjamin Sebastian | Holly Slingsby | lili Spain | Daniella Valz Gen | Aaron Williamson | Verity Whiter | Nicola Woodham & Robin Bale | Mirei Yazawa & Chris Dowding | Silvia Ziranek | Liz Zumin |

Lectures and readings from:

Artist, Noah Angell | Anthropologist, Chris Knight | Freud Museum Curator, Sophie Leighton | Academic Historian, Christina Oakley-Harrington | Artist, Fabian Peake |

Drinks reception

On Friday night join us for a drinks reception in Freud’s garden, serenaded by the glamorous Auntie Maureen and her glorious gramophone. With screenings and performance from David Blandy, lili Spain and Sarah-Grainger-Jones.

The award winning Hunt and Darton Cafe will be open from 12-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Not only will the ladies serve up a delicious selection of sandwiches, cakes and homemade lemonade, they will also invite you to create ‘totemic’ sugar sandwich sculptures and join the small, but no less ‘totemic’ sports day on the front lawn.

Saturday kicks off with a performance-lecture from American artist, Noah Angell on Crying in the Ethnographic Field Recording, followed by an exciting afternoon of roaming and durational performances, from artists such as recent resident artist at Camden Arts Centre, Simon Raven and Wolf in the Winter member, Kirsten Norrie, and look out for Peruvian artist Daniella Valz Gen’s Primal Cord weaving in the bushes… Stellar artist Silvia Ziranek will perform her new work, I THINK NOT and the great Jordan McKenzie explores ‘Kinship’. We finish the day with a screening of The Trip by international renowned artist Marcus Coates.

On Sunday we have two great lectures, Totem and Taboo in the 21st Century, by Anthropologist, Chris Knight and Savages Amongst Us: Contemporary Pagan Witches and their Magical Beliefs, from Academic Historian and Wiccan Priestess, Christina Oakley Harrington. The afternoon continues with a wonderful mix of roaming and static live performances and participatory games in the Hunt and Darton Cafe. We close the festival with new works from three leading performance artists; Brian Catling, Alastair MacLennan and Aaron Williamson.

Find out more about all the artists below.

About the text – The series of essays, published in 1913 as Totem and Taboo, captures the quintessential Freud: dazzlingly creative, theoretically brilliant, audacious, controversial and inflammatory. Although calculated to deliver a fatal blow to the theories of Carl Jung (by then his archrival), Freud also sought to demonstrate the value of psychoanalysis to contemporary issues in the social sciences, such as totemism, magical thinking, prohibition and kinship. The work draws on 19th century anthropology to construct a psycho-historical tale of murder, cannibalism, incest and guilt at the dawn of civilisation. The repercussions of this story affect us still.

One hundred years on, Totem and Taboo remains one of Freud’s most incendiary works. It continues to arouse both fascination and repulsion from a wide range of disciplines, inviting constant readings and re-readings, both sympathetic and critical, as successive generations plunder its depths.

The festival was curated by lili Spain and produced in partnership with Artsadmin and the Live Art Development Agency.

Related Resources

Auntie Maureen knows nothing of new-fangled technologies, believes hip hop is a children’s jumping game and is firmly set in her lady ways as a dusty ol’ spinster. Of records! But only the 78rpm shellac kind or else she gets confused and cranky. Her trusted 1940s wind-up gramophone is her one life-long companion. So beware! As she descend with her picnic turntable to a muddy lawn near you…

Noah Angell was born in the United States in 1980 and lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions and events include ‘Crying in the ethnographic field recording’ at the University of California Riverside, ‘Forgetting and Negative Space in the ethnographic field recording ‘at HDLU in Zagreb, ‘Anomalies and non-representative instances ‘at Studio Pompstraat, Rotterdam, ‘Labor & Rhythm’ at Banner Repeater, London, ‘Figure 3: I don’t know what to say’, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, and the solo exhibition ‘Noah Angell: Film Works’ at Oksasenkatu 11, Helsinki.

Katherine Araniello‘s prime focus is to subvert and parody complex contemporary issues often to do with disability such as assisted suicide, media representation, prejudice and ignorance and body aesthetics. Using a variety of media including film, performance and digital prints she transforms these complex and serious issues to make works that are humorous and playful with a critical edge. as an antidote to those varying clichés – ‘I get to bake my cake and eat it too.’

David Blandy is a performance and video artist, who investigates the cultural forces that inform and influence him, using references sampled from the wide, disparate sources that provide his (and our own) sense of self. Blandy examines the individual’s relationship to culture and history, revealing the complexities of the post-colonial condition.

Jemima Burrill is preoccupied by the little things, the tools we use to clean ourselves, the spoons we feed ourselves with, these are the vocabulary of her work. The work is not confined to a media: video, performance, photography and etchings match an idea to the inappropriate setting. Burrill sets up peculiar situations, putting women in unusual circumstances: a car wash, or through a Christmas tree wrapping machine. Here Burrill tests female stereotypes, develops extravagant homely rituals, that highlight the everyday.

Brian Catling was born in London in 1948. He is a poet, sculptor and performance artist, who is currently working in video and live work. He has been commissioned to make solo installations and performances in many countries including; Spain, Japan, Iceland, Israel, Holland, Norway, Germany, Greenland and Australia His solo show Antix at Matt’s Gallery drew much critical acclaim. He founded the international performance group The Wolf In The Winter, whose most recent manifestation was at The South London Gallery. His video work moves between gallery installation and narrative films made in collaboration with Tony Grisoni. Their most recent work The Cutting was released in 2011. They also produce the no holds barred Cabaret Melancolique.

He is professor of fine art at The Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Linacre College.

Jack Catling presents an imagined vision of the conjuror, reconfiguring the secrecy and meaning behind his methods using performance and installation. Jack is also director of the site-specific performance group The Parlour Collective. His interests include expectation, coincidence, and shamanism.

Marcus Coates (b. 1968, London; lives London) received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2008) and was the winner of the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize (2009) for his video work Intelligent Design (2008), which he made during his Galápagos residency. Another Galápagos work, Human Report (2008), entered the British Council Collection and has been presented at several international galleries. Coates’ solo exhibitions include Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo (2009); Kunsthalle Zurich (2009); Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2010); and Serpentine Gallery, London (2011). He has also participated in many group exhibitions, in venues including Tate Britain, London (2009), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2010).

Hunt & Darton are a Live Art Collaboration between Jenny Hunt and Holly Darton. We have both practiced Art since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2003 and been working together for 7 years. Approaching Live Art from a Fine Art background we work across mediums with a sculptural approach to performance, choreographing words and movement in a sensory way and setting up alternative spaces – often creating installations to perform within. Our work derives from our shared celebrations and anxieties surrounding life choices particularly as women, in Britain, now. Hunt & Darton are the creators of the award-winning Hunt & Darton Cafe.

Sarah Grainger-Jones uses performance, intervention and collage to explore ideas of thresholds, liminality and the clandestine. She is interested in parapsychology, myth, folklore and psychoanalysis – how traces of the past can haunt the present and buried matter or forces can provoke unpredictable occurrences. She often works with objects that have a sense of history and dislocated function, such as old photographs and books – they have a past life, a sense of otherness and misplacement.

She has performed at Milton Keynes Gallery, De Le Warr Pavilion, Whitechapel Gallery, the Bluecoat and the Freud Museum. She was Co-Director of a series of art events with artist lili Spain under the name of The Red Velvet Curtain Cult and also performed as Folie a Trois, a collaborative live art duo.

Poppy Jackson makes body- and action-based works exploring violence as creative catayst, female sexuality, nomadism and the boundaries between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ spaces.

Her work has been presented internationally, most recently at Grace Exhibition Space in New York. She is an Associate Artist of ]performance s p a c e[ and Project Director of Liminal Bodies, the international network for nomadic artists.

Chris Knight is an anthropologist and author of ‘Blood Relations: Menstruation and the origins of Culture’ (yale University Press).

Sophie Leighton is Curator at the Freud Museum. In charge of the collections which range from ashtrays to antiquities, she has diverse interests and has written on 20th-century photography and interior design.

Alastair MacLennan represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale, in 1997, with intermedia work commemorating the names of all those who died as a result of the Political Troubles in Northern Ireland, from 1969 to ( then ) date. During the 1970’s and 80’s he made ( some ) long, non-stop durational performances in Britain, America and Canada, of up to 144 hours. Subject matter dealt with political, social and cultural malfunction. Since 1975 he has been based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and was a founding member of Belfast’s Art and Research Exchange ( 1978 ). Since 1975 he has taught at the University of Ulster, Belfast, where for 11 years he ran the Master of Arts ( MA ) Fine Art programme. Currently, he travels regularly to Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and Canada presenting Actuations ( performance/installations ). Since 1989 he has been a member of the internationally regarded performance art entity, Black Market International, which performs globally. He is an Emeritus Professor of Fine Art from the University of Ulster, Belfast, an Honorary Fellow of Dartington College of Arts, Devon, England, an Honorary Associate of the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland and a founding member of Belfast’s Bbeyond.

Kate Mahonys work is about performance. Paranoia fuels her site specific and transitory work, catering to the gig at hand. Mahony’s performance responses are fuelled by research into architecture, site and duration of the event/exhibition/brief itself, viewed as given materials. Varied use of object deployment and references to past 1960/70’s performance art attempts at a gesture that can in some way subvert an expectation of what performance art is and can be. She has exhibited recently at the ICA, Dilston Grove and London Art Fair.

Jordan Mckenzie is a performance artist who has exhibited both nationally and internationally including Tate Britain, The Courtauld Institute, Vitrine Gallery London, Arnolfini Bristol, Museu Serralves Portugal and Grace Space, New York. Over the past sixteen years his work has explored diverse areas of thought and practice including queer body based works, Minimalism, class and Britishness. His works are often irreverent and satirical responses to the turgid and elitist posturing of bourgeois art and culture.

Kirsten Norrie is a Scottish performance artist who also makes music and writes under the name MacGillivray. She has performed live art internationally solo and with European performance collective, The Wolf in the Winter.

Simon Raven is a Nottingham-based artist working in performance and film. Much of his practice is informed by a critical response to his experience of having been treated for depression and hypomania, and social stigma related to disability. In 2012 Simon was resident artist at Camden Arts Centre, having been awarded the Adam Reynolds Memorial bursary for artists working with a disability.

Benjamin Sebastian‘s practise is interdisciplinary. His processes and work actively interrogate various dialectic relationships fundamentally those of logic V’s the irrational, as well as creation V’s destruction. He works primarily with the material of his body, paper, fire & found or reclaimed objects, to create assemblage and time based works that often reference components of continental and existential philosophy along with identity politics. This practice is a refusal of classification via style or medium, continuously attempting to find reason in the irrational and the profound in the mundane through strategies of repetition, appropriation, duration & Liveness.

Sebastion is the assistant director at ]performance s p a c e [

Holly Slingsby’s practice centres on performance and also employs drawing, objects and video. Plundering imagery from a variety of religious and mythical traditions, her work explores the inherited lexicon of symbols and invents hybrids: the unconvincing deities of imagined belief systems.

She studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University (2003-2006) and the Slade School of Art, London (2008- 2010). Her recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at SHIFT., London (2012); and performances at galleries including Modern Art Oxford (2010); the Barbican, London (2011); and the ICA, London (2012).

lili Spain’s artwork encompasses a diverse range of media, including installation and performance. Starting from a sculptural sensibility she uses found objects and text to develop imagined, mythical histories that are obsessively collected and re-worked to form hybrid art pieces. The resulting works are both unsettling and absurd. She is currently obsessed with Freud’s ‘Totem and Taboo’ and is the Totemic Festival Curator.

She was former co-director of the Red Velvet Curtain Cult, with fellow artist, Sarah Grainger-Jones and currently the Freud Museum events and media manager.

Daniella Valz Gen born in Lima, lives and works in London. Daniella’s work is concerned with ideas of liveness and subjectivity. She uses installation, performance and writing in her work. Her practice takes a stance akin to that of self-reflective anthropology, a methodology she finds useful in her ongoing research on material culture. She has co-curated programmes such as Repeat Rewind Rephrase, a series of performance events at Latymer Projects. Shows include her upcoming solo show at Jubilee Gallery in Japan and recent performances at the ICA, London Art Fair and New Gallery.

Verity Whiter is an artist who is concerned first and foremost with objects that utilise sensation, and have a basis in direct contact with or use of the human body. Subsequent treatment is dictated by processes contemporary, historic and craft with labour or exertion as fundamental catalyst for the works creation, execution and display. Consideration of smell, touch and taste as well as sight hopes to broaden experience, opening up the exchange of presence between person, place and thing.

Aaron Williamson’s work is informed by a politicised, yet humorous sensibility towards disability. He considers the situations he encounters, and represents his response to them in his work. Over the last 15 years Aaron Williamson has created more than 300 performances and video works in many countries: in Greenland, Japan, US, China, South America, Taiwan and throughout Europe.

Nicola Woodham and Robin Bale pillage and scrounge to create their absurdist performances. They appropriate vaudeville, Greek mythology, rave culture and everyday domesticity to manifest their uncanny tableaux. They have worked together as a duo since 2010 performing in a range of settings including Whitechapel Gallery and De La Warr Pavilion. Individually, Nicola recently directed a live audio play for Weekend OtherWorld hosted by English Heretic and showed at Transition Gallery and Edinburgh Art Festival. Robin completed a PERMACULTURES residency at SPACE, performed at TARP Audio Visual Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania and is due to speak at HECKLER symposium at Trade Gallery, Nottingham in July 2013.

Mirei Yazawa
is a performance artist, a dancer and an improvisor based in London. Since studying fine art at Goldsmith college, she has continuously trained herself as an improvisor and a dancer, and produced performance works. She explores reality through structured improvisation with poetic use of objects, body movement and sound.

Chris Dowding is a trumpeter and workshop leader based in London. He plays with bands Natural Causes and Rude 2.0 (with the trombonist Annie Whitehead), and has led workshops with End of the Road Festival, Dartington, and Spitalfields Music.


Silvia’s performance is kindly supported by Vidal Sassoon and A Better Badge.

Liz Zumin is a performance artist living and working in London. Her work examines issues surrounding states of absence, transformation, and the continually shifting borders and permutations of the individual subject. Looking at the body as site of both communication and resistance she explores ways in which the body in crisis seeks release, albeit temporary, from silencing and subordination.

Liz Zumin‘s performances have featured in exhibitions and festivals in the UK and Europe.