A psychosocial art
I want to turn now to explicitly bring the psychosocial in to this thread of blogs.
Psychoanalysis gives discourse by which to understand ways that we spilt or repress aspects of our emotional experience in the interest of maintaining interpersonal relations. Artists are given, or take, permission to explore this also with art, as Frosh states, operating outside of the structures of society and this offering new insight and understanding on how we internalise those structures.
But I wonder if the reverse is true, that art making and exhibition is an inherently social, not narcissistic or liminal, experience.
We can see in participatory art especially, the feedback loop is similar to the cultural approach that recognises the importance of those who are introduced and affected by the creation of the art work; a co-experience, this collective site of knowledge arises from interaction with others, connecting self and others, self and culture. Thus the art experience blurs boundaries between selfhood and objecthood, of open-ended dialogue, and in the objectification of social feeling, art is a social tool that brings our intimate life into sphere of social life.
Abell’s suprapersonal artist requires us to expand our understanding of creativity from the internal to the social – he in fact uses the term ‘psycho-cultural’ to denote this – and for Bakhtin, art and identity are a continuum, the theory of art is also a theory of identity with no final interpretation as it’s a dynamic, open, and mutually dependent process.
Thus, creating an account of art is also the process of creating ontology of the lived experience. The messages of art aren’t concerned with the artwork, but about the social space it came from and agreeing with Freud, understanding the group can help also the understanding of the individual, the basis of the object-relation theory.
But we can go further…
Glaveanu termed the art experience the ‘we-paradigm’; that creativity is culture and social specific, the role of the community is as a provider of criteria for evaluation of creativity. Creativity involves deep-rooted connections between artist and environment, self and others and creator and culture.
With regards psychoanalysis at this level, for Freud, civilisation, as a sum of individuals, became neurotic and art has a role here as a cultural therapy, to ‘master the disturbance of communal life’; he stated that it is not psychoanalysis that we will save us, but an immersion in culture as panacea to the demands of civilisation. Arts association with loss and the fact that the art work has been created at all negotiates empty space and absence, art filling this ‘loss’ not as a replacement but as the creation of something new.
A psychosocial approach to art reaches beyond the art form into the culture from which it originates and through the individual expression of the artist to what this says of the collective experience of the time. Thus art is both symbol and symptom of the lived experience – and thus art is experienced not just as the individual work itself but the whole context from which it is experienced in the life of the audience. A psychosocial art collapses boundaries of social relations and the creation of art and the monotheisms of both art and psychoanalysis and how and where a therapeutic relationship can take place.