‘Panamarenko and Psychoanalysis’ by Chris Oakley

In Panamarenko’s work we will perhaps inevitably be drawn to note “an oscillation between grand projects for flying machines”(an insistent presentation or representation of flight) on the one hand, and on the other a relentless concern with the more down to earth, practical or technical problems. And it is this in mixing of two contradictory yet coexistent trajectories installing an exchange across a borderline that also characterises the psychoanalytic experience. Inevitably there will be consideration given to the more grounded, ‘technical’ even, concern with the production of meaning, the fidelity to sense, so habitually enmeshed in the assumptions of depth psychology (back to the delights of “Panama, Spitzbergen, Nova Zemblaya”, Panamarenko’s submarine.) But at the same time there will always be the potentiality of something quite random, utterly contingent moments of seduction, as a counterpoint to production (of meaning), soaring moments of being trance-ported into virgin terrain, the sublime. All of this will take place through the back and forth across or through these distinct registers. It is not difficult to bear witness to Panamarenko’s delight in disrupting and dismantling strict interdisciplinary boundaries between, for example, technology, art, and science, and along with friend and colleague, Joseph Beuys there is a shared sensibility with regard to a synthesis of art/science and philosophy, all converging into something approaching a system reflecting the concerns of our humanity. As with Psychoanalysis.

However there is a twist in the tale. And it involves flight, as in fugitive, on the run from. Those of you who are familiar with such things may have a nagging anxiety which might conceivably run something like this: the very inauguration of Psychoanalysis, indeed it’s very identity, was installed via a purportedly indelible rupture with hypnosis. Psychoanalysis began by analysing a resistance to hypnotic suggestion, which Freud felt was quite legitimate, the resistance that is. From this Freud invented, so to speak, Psychoanalysis, which he would insist would be non hypnotic. In this his concern was with force, coercion, and his proposal was a move from the pressure technique, a placing of the hand on the other’s forehead, toward an insistence, ultimately on speech… in other words a pressing prohibition on remaining silent. Ultimately Freud sought to arrive at a “collaboration”, perhaps evoking Panamarenko’s “The Bernoulli”(1995) which had initially been called “Paradox.” His intention was “to carry two people only…steering is achieved by bodily displacement, the co-ordinated movement of pilot and passenger around the platform.” Amongst a plethora of potential paradoxes that congeal around this ultimately unsustainable rigid demarcation between the hypnotic and the psychoanalytical, transference being none other than a light hypnotic state, we might note the question as to who is the pilot and who the passenger, in other words who is being taken for the ride?