The Artist/Analyst Is Present: At the Interface between Creative Arts Practice & Clinical Psychoanalytic Practice

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The Artist/Analyst Is Present: At the Interface between Creative Arts Practice & Clinical Psychoanalytic Practice features a public screening and discussion of the documentary film, Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present, dirs. Matthew Akers and Jeffrey Dupre (2012).
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York exhibited a major retrospective of the performance artist Marina Abramović’s work from 14 March to 31 May 2010. As part of the exhibition, The Artist is Present, Abramović performed a long-durational piece which involved her sitting in the gallery space every day the gallery was open, from the time it opened until the time it closed. Gallery visitors were invited to sit across from her in silence while she held their gaze. She sat with people for over 700 hours. At first Abramović and each visitor were separated by a small table, which she later had removed so that there was only a small space between them. Long queues formed as time went on, and many who sat in front of the artist were visibly moved to tears in her presence. The performance space also filled up with people who came and watched the silent interactions between the artist and each visitor. The Artist Is Present documentary film provides an overview of the MOMA retrospective as well as an introduction to Abramović’s body of work which spans nearly five decades.
What was happening in the silent interaction between artist and visitor to produce such a profound impact on those who sat and those who watched from the sidelines? What does it mean to say the artist is present? What is the place of the gaze in this performance? How does silence function in this piece? What is the relationship between the seated pair and the group that forms around them? How might psychoanalysis help us to think about these questions and also to reflect on our own relationship as viewers to this documentary film and to the portrait it presents of Abramović as artist? How might it inform our clinical practice? The performance itself also brings to mind the analytic frame, the analytic attitude and the analyst’s capacity to sit with an analysand for the duration of a session. The centrality of the gaze in the performance also prompts us to think of the place of the gaze in psychoanalysis, offered to the analysand by the analyst at the beginning and end of sessions but denied to both parties when the analysand lies on the couch and the analyst sits behind, out of sight.
This public screening & discussion provides space for a dialogue between the creative arts and clinical psychoanalysis, focusing particularly on what artists, curators, art critics and analysts might learn from each other’s understanding of Abramović’s art practice. The session opens with a screening of The Artist Is Present documentary, followed by brief responses (5 minutes each) from an interdisciplinary panel of speakers, after which we will have time for a discussion about the audience’s response to the documentary and Abramović’s work as it is presented to us. The panel brings together people from the creative arts, curatorship, arts criticism, philosophy, psychoanalysis, psychology, art therapy, visual culture and film studies. Discussants include Gráinne Casey (psychologist & child & adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist), Noreen Giffney (psychoanalytic psychotherapist & Director of Psychoanalysis +), Jacinta Lynch (visual artist & founder & director of Broadstone Studios), Lisa Moran (Curator: Engagement & Learning in IMMA) and Katherine Waugh (writer, curator & film-maker). The purpose of the responses is to open up a space for each of us to reflect onour experience of watching the documentary, the reactions it provokes in us, and why a capacity for self-reflection is so vital for creative arts practice and clinical psychoanalytic practice. 
This event is organised by Noreen Giffney. It forms part of the 8th annual Irish Psychoanalytic Film Festival, which is organised by the Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP) and the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland (APPI). Continuing professional development (CPD) points were available to attendees via the Film Festival. 
Period4 Feb 2017
Event typeOther
LocationDublin, IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Art
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Creative Arts Practice
  • Performance Art
  • Psychosocial Studies
  • Clinical Practice
  • Marina Abramović
  • Documentary Film
  • Curatorial Practice
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychocultural Studies