Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult: Cutting Up a New Conversation

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Dr. Vanesa Rawlings Sinclair
, a tall beauty in black with ivory skin and scarlet stained lips, unassumingly graces the worn-in wood floors of The Candid Arts Trust. Artwork which she meticulously curated punctuates the white walls of the industrial studio space where a public art opening is being held to kick off the weekend-long symposium “Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult.” Dr. Sinclair was up all night carefully arranging the pieces with her co-organizer Carl Abrahmsson—a quiet man humbly observing the scene through the lens of a camera hung so comfortably around his neck it seems to be another limb. In a way, the gallery is an invocation of the cut, an idea developed famously by poets William S. Borroughs and Bryan Gyson, which Dr. Sinclair will address in depth tomorrow alongside Katlyn Foisey, her co-author of a project from which this conference was birthed. Along the gallery’s walls, each artist’s work seems to intervene in the space between those positioned alongside of it, altering the context of the gallery space and framing the podium from which the presenters will speak over these next three days.

Dr. Sinclair, a psychoanalyst in private practice and founding member of the free association for psychoanalysis Das Unbehagen, together with Carl Abrahmson, a freelance writer and lecturer, organized the symposium to stitch together the ongoing split between psychoanalysis and the occult—two ethical disciplines which raise specific questions and assert possible answers about what it means to be in the world. Hosting this pre-conference gallery opening was a way of lending art as the subject of the discussion as a representation of that which both systems take as its object: the human experience, the human mind.

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