[Prepared by the Professor in Psychoanalysis and Clinical Psychopathology of the Institute of Psychology at USP, Christian Dunker, this is the first text in a series of 7 (seven) that we will publish, starting on Monday, September 10, weekly.

Summary 

I intend to show how mediation practices invite the encounter with the work as a reconstructive reading experience. This process can be understood as an ethical experience of recognition, involving aesthetic form and social contradiction. The ethical function of discourse, concentrated on the notion of letter, determines modes of relationship with the work that are also models of intersubjective relationship with the other. I present this theme from seven ethical challenges for contemporary museums

1 Curation as Listening to Conflicting Symbolic Systems

 

I arrived at this discussion about museums and the visual arts as a result of my research on the origin of the actions that historically constituted psychoanalysis. The official version is that our practice was a derivation of the clinical method of medicine, born at the end of the XNUMXth century. Freud would have subverted this method by shifting his center from looking to listening, from the doctor's speech to the patient's free association. But in addition to a clinic, psychoanalysis is also a therapy, that is, a kind of technique or art to reduce psychic suffering. But what really surprised me was discovering that in addition to a clinic and therapy, psychoanalysis was also a kind of cure.

Healing is neither a primarily medical nor a religious concept, but a philosophical one.

cure (heateau epimeleia), for the Greeks, or cure sui, for Latins, is a transformative experience, usually involving dialogue between a master, whose prototype is Socrates, and a disciple, whose classic example is Alcibiades. Healing is an ethical path, in which the subject's position before the other and the world is analyzed, but mainly the position of someone's power, thematized from the beginning, by the demand for a master, supposed to know how to govern well. Examine your own dreams, meditate on your fundamental fears, examine the origin and function of the ideas that besiege us, analyze our ties of friendship or enmity, acquire some erotic mastery under you, write about the unity of our lives, ponder the inclination towards certain affections, such as hatred and emulation, are examples of practices that made up the care of the self. Characteristic of the ethical experience of healing is prudent examination (sophrosine) of how the enunciation of the truth about our own desire, through frank speech (paresis), or about our own destiny, in the case of tragedy, transforms the one who enunciates it.

Healing is taking care of the experience over time, maintaining the process, sustaining a policy for the wishes of those involved, it is not returning to a state of harmony and removing the symptoms, normalizing the person.

This new and old sense for the experience of healing immediately approached an important museum practice that is curation. Relatively recent changes within the arts system, notably associated with a shift in the museum's social place, call into question the traditional role of the curator. This role combines the legal sense, of one who deals with the assets or businesses of those who are disabled, with the artistic sense that takes care of or supervises the assembly of an exhibition, selecting pieces and ordering the script and execution of an art space.

Combining these things, we can say that the curator has a dual role: he protects, manages and educates, but also takes care, supports and listens. Caring and educating are therefore not identical practices, and the difference lies mainly in the power position involved. But what does the curator take care of?

 

  1. Of the works, which he researches, he chooses and conserves

  2. From the dialogue between artists and the public,

  3. From the patrimony of a country or a foundation,

  4. of cultural diversity,

  5. The relationship between public affairs and private interests

  6. Of the people who get rich with access to symbolic goods

Now, if we retain the old meaning of the notion of healing, what the curator does is take care of the process and the relationships involved in it, hence its function is synthesized by the notion of mediation. But here we can place the particular change that has taken place in contemporary museology. It is no longer oriented towards the election of a canon, with which the public will maintain a vertical position of submission and even reverence. The new curatorship recognizes that the symbolic systems she takes care of are in conflict and that the act of healing involves taking a position in this universe of conflicts. An act whose first characteristic is to determine what the conflict is and in what language, or in what aesthetic form, it will be placed.

By the notion of “post” (questions) we must understand, above all, the gesture of bringing and inscribing a work in the public space. This is the fundamental museological act: to make public, to make memorable, to make a certain objectality or eventuality of public interest. For that, it is necessary first of all to listen to the conflict and be affected by it.

Now, if we retain the old meaning of the notion of healing, what the curator does is take care of the process and the relationships involved in it, hence its function is synthesized by the notion of mediation. But here we can place the particular change that has taken place in contemporary museology. It is no longer oriented towards the election of a canon, with which the public will maintain a vertical position of submission and even reverence. The new curatorship recognizes that the symbolic systems she takes care of are in conflict and that the act of healing involves taking a position in this universe of conflicts. An act whose first characteristic is to determine what the conflict is and in what language, or in what aesthetic form, it will be placed.

For example, at the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo, works by Vânia Mignone and Lucia Nogueira are also welcomed. The first works with well-defined phrases and messages about the paradox of experience, such as “You could have told me a lie” or, the caption “your limits”, covering someone who stretches a tightrope between two fragile ladders. The second is composed of brightly colored vertical lines or floating star-shaped figures, provoking a certain representative naivety. Two works that apparently belong to different symbolic series, despite being contemporary authors, are placed (ex posts) in the same common space.

This is the primary meaning of the notion of mediation.

 

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