'I have a face, but a face is not what I am. Behind it lies a mind, which you do not see but which looks out on you. This face, which you see but I do not, is a medium I own to express something of what I am'.
David Bell (2000)
Pathography — Where Art Practice meets the Practice of Psychoanalysis
The word Pathography was first introduced by Freud in the publication of Leonardo Da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood (1910). He wanted a way to explore the psycho-biography of an artist through the analysis of the artwork.
Pathography is further defined by psychotherapist Nicky Glover as 'The viewing of art as a privileged form of neurosis where the analyst-critic explores the artwork in order to understand and unearth the vicissitudes of the creator’s psychological motivations' (2009).
My doctoral research consisted a development of this process, by which art practice can be developed alongside analysis, providing potential insight into the artist’s internal world. Being a lens-based artist, I have predominately used photography, but any media can be used in this process. The method, which incorporates the process of self-representation with support and analysis will bring valuable insights into your relation with your artwork, which I would argue is vital to the authenticity of the work.
I have trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist after many years of working professionally in the arts, alongside my own art practice, so it is a natural progression for me to bring together my interests in both psychoanalytic and art practice.
Art Practice Website Spencer Rowell
In my thesis, I introduce the origins of the idea of developing a method that analyses artwork to reveal something of the artist’s pathography. I describe my experience of bringing my own art practice within sight of my psychoanalytic training and practice. I discuss how this method where artwork is made in the knowledge it will be analysed, means that an internal conversation can be made public; the artist’s relationship with his or her practice. I call this a form of self-portraiture where a series of viewpoints accompanied by a written narrative can express more of a sense of who one is.
An Exploration of Pathography within Phototherapy, An Analysis of the Photographic Self-Portrait PhD Thesis