what I think depressive position related to Louise Bourgeouis's creation

November 23, 2013

In 1952, in Hanna Segal page 'A psycho-analytic approach to aesthetics', she put forward the suggestion that the artist impulse is specifically related to the depression position. The artist's need is to recreate what he feels in the depth of his inner world. She said it is his inner perception of the deepest feeling of the depressive position that his internal work is shattered with leads to the necessity for the artist to recreate something that is felt to be a whole new world. And this is what every major artist does- creates a world. And it is a world of its own. (Hanna Segal p.86 Dream, phantasy and art)

In Proust’s major work, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (1908-12), contains an insightful description of the actual process of creating. He recalls his dead or otherwise lost loved objects and emphasizes that the only fact that objects and the past are lost that gives an impetus and the need to recreate them, the only way he can do it is by finding a symbolic expression: art is essentially a search for a symbolic expression. The creation of this inner world is unconsciously also a recreation of a lost world. Stated by Proust.

Proust’s Elstir cries out ‘One can only create what one has renounced’; this is consistent with some of Freud’s views on sublimation, when he emphasized the need of inhibiting the instinctual aim a renunciation. From the point of view of object relations such a renunciation would entail the renunciation of the possession of an object. Freud also says that we cannot give up an object without internalizing it. This internalization makes the object part of psychic reality, the reality that the artist has to represent. 

 

The work, Maman (1999, Steel and Marble 9.2 x 8.91 x 10.23 m) by Louise Bourgeois, in the context of an object-based installation-space. It helps Bourgeois come to terms with the complex relationship she has with her mother. Mostly, it is believed that her work is related to some way to the body, either spatially, metaphorically or symbolically. Therefore, situated within a psychoanalytical framework. Maman as an installation-space is doing two things; firstly, it asks the view to question their own visually, how they look, see, or are blind to what is around them; and secondly, it acts as Bourgeois’s personal exploration of her relationship with her mother, with which the view may empathies. In the inaugural exhibition of Tate Modern in 2000 at Turbine Hall, why and how Bourgeois have to created the gigantic spider which could effect on such a visceral level. Generally speaking spiders are intensely figurative and alarmingly strong in their effect on people. They can evoke potent but differing emotions, from childhood curiosity and playfulness, to terror and immobilized fear. The spider metonymically calls on the richly layered theme of weaving, a subject which leads back to Bourgeois’s  childhood at aged 11, she help her parents restore tapestries in a workshop in Choisy-le-roi. She mentioned that her drawings are a secretion like a thread in a spider’s web (Morris et al 2000 p.17), also, her work has a deep anxiety towards her mother. The relational matrix between the mother and infant is important. This state is dominated by the baby’s primitive greed for its mother and the desire for the total control of her. From birth and to the childhood’s mother acts as an ultra-sensitive coordinator of the child’s needs and provides the creative opportunity for the child’s illusion. There are several instances in Bourgeois’s work where she identifies her mother, and create symbols of her mother, similar to her self-portraits. These examples uphold the argument that Bourgeois has a fused identity with her mother, as the important separation process, crucial to the child’s development of its own identity.

 

And due to Lousie was possibly depressed by her husband’s affair and developed a ‘false self’ in relation to mother, she internalized many acknowledged distressing experiences out of her control. It is explained as the infant psyche, the unsatisfying object, her mother frustrates her needs yet simultaneously whets them in the hope of satisfaction. This is a universe of adaptation where compliance carries a sense of futility and lost hope. The infant creativity becomes a distorted attempt to establish the nurturing environment it needs but which the mother cannot provide (Minsky 1996 p.117). Ultimately the child is denied the reality of a true self, a core identity of its own, as it is smoke-screened behind a false compliant self where ‘a feeling of being real is absent’ (Minsky 1996 p.117). I believed that, as a child, Bourgeois was unable to achieve the necessary psychological separation from her mother and is now, even as a 92 year old adult, left to cope with life without a viable identity of her own (Eichenbaum & Orbach 1983 p.19). The characteristics of a mother, in the eyes of a child who has been left to internalized unsatisfying experiences, is that of a disappointing person split in two, ‘the known and longed for giving mother and the deeply disappointing mother’ (Eichenbaum & Orbach 1983 p.18). As Bourgeois says, ‘drawing is a form of a diary… to exorcise or deconstruct daily fears’ (Bernadac 1996 p.13), and that every day she has to abandon her past or accept it and if she cannot accept it she sculpts (Corris 1996 p.17). By saying the words ‘if you cannot accept it you sculpt’ implies that sculpting is a form of release that cannot be put into words, an unconscious mode that Bourgeois taps into. Sculpture to her is something she cannot find the words to express. 

 

Bourgeois’s dependency on her past life as a source of inspiration is paradoxically similar to that of a small child reliant on its mother. Exposing this dependency can be a painful experience as it reinforces her overwhelming and insatiable, feelings of emptiness in relation to this unfulfilled need. Bourgeois’s need is evident by her continual appetite to solve the same problem, over and over again. Her deep fascination with abandonment and her thirst for self-realization is exhausting. But however exhausting this may be for Bourgeois, it shifts her feelings of anxiety into her work and in doing so, powerfully taps into the viewer’s ‘collective unconscious’ (Malinaud 1998 p.80). In Maman’s case, I believed that is a maternal collective unconscious, a dual role of indispensable supporter and deadly enemy of the human-self. The good mother is fit to nurture her children’s needs and to confirm their worth, power and significance. However, if she fails to render them this service, she is a bad mother who, beckons her loved ones from selfhood, wants to engulf, dissolve, drown and suffocate them (Eichenbaum & Orbach date p.34-35). As a theoretical installation Maman is self-reflexive and acts as the universal mother in whose awareness the viewer’s subjective existence can be mirrored, and as a transitional space offers Bourgeois the objectivity she desires. As Bourgeois says her ‘space does not exist in itself it is just a metaphor for the structure of our existence’ (Bernadac & Obrist 1998 p.220).

 

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