26 October 2020

Staged Documentary Practice Reshapes the Nature of the Subconscious

26 October 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

By looking at the practice of hypnosis, German visual artist Louisa Boeszoermeny offers a metaphorical reflection upon the state of female pain and traumatic experiences within a system of patriarchal psychiatry.

"Distance is only a psychic and ideological construct designed to protect me from the nearness of things" (Timothy Morton, "Hyperobjects")

In this series, I deal associatively with "female pain" from a feminist perspective. I abstract ways of encountering the subconscious that I observed and documented during hypnosis sessions and in the sleep laboratory. Inspired by these visual examinations, I stage scenes that suggest similar attempts. I also approach the possible nature, materiality and (in-) accessibility of the subconscious.

The protagonists' apparent desire for self-empowerment stands in clear contrast to the uncontrollability and sheer size and inconceivability of this hyper-object and opens up questions of control, coercion and self-optimization. In the pictures, this condenses into a conflict that the women face in a state of torpor. I examine the area of tension between support and dependency and the persistence in a given posture or the failure of this task. I also question the dichotomous concept of therapist and patient and the pathologization of female connoted symptoms that can only be made and reproduced through traumatic experiences within a patriarchal system.

My work is characterized by research on the role of women in psychiatry and psychoanalysis as well as the biographies and works of female poets, especially those associated with confessional poetry.

Although some of the images have a documentary character, I have focused on abstractions in these situations. I am interested in the moment that lies on the border between documentation and staging. The results are deconstructed to an extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted.

The subconscious has the potential to be something that opposes the effort to classify, to label and to measure. That is one of the qualities that I am particularly interested in.

Words and Pictures by Louisa Boeszoermeny.


Louisa Boeszoermeny 's artistic practice encompasses photography and video. Topics that she gravitates towards are concepts of control, aesthetics of inner worlds and the formation of identity. She likes to juxtapose her studio work with abstracted documentary images which open up towards fiction. That way she challenges notions of reality within photography. Find her on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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