‘Panamarenko and Psychoanalysis’ by Chris Oakley

A paper given at the Hayward Gallery’s “Flights of Fancy” conference at the Royal Festival Hall on 25th March, 2000.

A preface to what I wish to say is a reference to the relation between Art and Psychoanalysis. The traditional view installs Psychoanalysis as one form of analysis, one form of meaning giving to either the art object itself or the motivation, unconscious or otherwise, of the artist. There is however a divergent view which locates the work of art as occupying the same place as the position of the analyst. Inevitably certain consequences stem from such a reversal: propped up by the assumption of knowledge, this position of the analyst is of the one who is supposed to know (but let us underscore the supposed) and this occasions, brings into being what the psychoanalysts call transference. Clearly it makes no sense to think this term along the classical lines of transfer, a mapping onto the position of the analyst or art work certain affects originating in our founding relationships, habitually those with our parents. No, what is potentially aroused is linked to the trajectories of magnetism, rapture, trance, otherwise known as a light hypnotic state of altered consciousness, a being led astray, all on the road to what Baudrillard designates as the fundamental dynamic of our being: seduction. After all is that not what we enter into both the art space, the gallery, and the influencing machine that is the psychoanalytic encounter for?

What I seek to do is to underscore a number of elements lodged within Panamarenko’s work in order to draw out certain convergences with a particular reading of the psychoanalytic project. As has been emphasised we can witness Panamarenko’s “intense preoccupation with forms of transport.” Immediately one might note a parallel with the psychoanalytic experience (not that I seek to unify this in any form, but allow a prevailing drift) with its link with notations of journey. Almost invariably the initial demand from the analysand is ‘get me out of what I am into’. This idea of travel would be intensified if one was of the school of thought which located Psychoanalysis as “merely a chapter in the history of trance.” otherwise known as trance-portation, the aforementioned light hypnotic state in which one may be carried away into parts that other conversations don’t reach. For those interested in such things this tradition is indelibly associated with the Lithuanian psychoanalyst and hypnotist, whose quote it is, Leon Chertok, Francois Roustang (French psychoanalyst of “Dire Mastery” and “Psychoanalysis never lets go” fame), Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen (philosopher, author of ” The Freudian Subject” and “Lacan: The Absolute Master” amongst others) and the Belgium Philosopher of Science Isabelle Stengers. We will return to this issue of trance in a moment.