"Couch Session" at CentralTrak to Feature the Artist Sitting Silently with Her Psychoanalyst
Isabelle Ten, July 2011, Denise Prince
Denise Prince's current collection of photographs sprung from four years of psychoanalysis. It was in the final two when the work became strangely experimental, compulsive and packed tight with neurosis.
The show, now completed, hangs on CentralTrak's back gallery wall, as one part of the new group exhibition That Mortal Coil. Tonight, you can hear the meaning behind the work, which gives a reformative view of fashion adverts modeled by corpses and disfigured women -- but not from the artist herself. That wouldn't do. Prince's analyst, Charles Merward, will run the "couch session" while Prince sits present and captive, but silent.
"My goal is to try and help viewers encounter what Denise sees and encounters through her photographs, like a telescope." Says Merward. "We're kind of like a Penn and Teller act."
As a practitioner of Lacanian Analysis, a non-medical model built on philosophic concepts, most of Charles Merward's contemporaries work outside of the United States. He's a geographical lone wolf, operating and teaching out of Los Angeles.
Merward says that most of his clients are either artists or art professors, creative types in search of a logical anchor. Denise Prince describes their analytical exchanges as a sort of open forum -- a scattershot of ideas where Merward picks through her verbal debris, reflecting her key points back to her.
The relationship grew unconventional when the purpose behind their meetings shifted. Prince phoned Merward and said she'd run out of analytic fodder for her personal growth. She wanted to shift the conversation entirely to The Missoni Project, the collection currently on display in Dallas. What had started out as an idea for a series of photographs morphed into a neurosis, says Merward. "She was working in a different discourse or reality."
He agreed to focus their time entirely around the art, hoping that by completing the series, they'd present a manifestation of Prince's unique vantage point while simultaneously curing her delusions.
Prince feels so confident in the work that materialized from those sessions that she believes her analyst can speak more eloquently on her behalf than she could. So, tonight he will.
The collection of Prince's Missoni Photographs features unlikely models posed to recreate scene's from the luxe brand's 2009 fashion ads. One -- a distorted mirrored-look at the beautiful life -- took the artist to India to find her muse: a human corpse. The especially svelte figure is posed, made-up, and dressed in expensive headware. She's holding what is likely a diet soda while decadently stretched out on a sandy beach.
In this series, Prince offers the disfigured and wounded the same vogue effects as their sought-after couture counterparts. Richly vivid and awash with cool leisure, they are glowing. Touched up. Dress to kill.
Prince says her analyst will present her work with a philosophical outlook. Merward says he intends to impart Prince's methodology and its effects on viewer engagement. Either way, it's going to be weird.
Listen in on this live "couch session" tonight at "Not on Speaking 'Terms': Trauma and Beauty". It begins at 7 p.m. at CentralTrak. (For those who cannot attend, it will be taped.)
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