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Open City Docs Fest: After War

ucyow3c4 July 2014

pencil-icon  Written by Matthew Green

The centenary of World War One and the withdrawal from Afghanistan have inspired multiple events exploring the dilemmas of returning soldiers, but few have delivered the combination of raw emotional punch and intellectual rigour that was on display at the After War panel at the Open City Docs Fest on 22 June.

A soldier in AfghanistanJake Wood, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving as an Army reservist in Afghanistan, showed dramatic footage from his helmet-camera that brought home the chaotic reality of combat.

He spoke movingly about the sense of dislocation he felt on returning to his job in a City investment bank, a theme echoed by Kevin Weaver, a war photographer who has battled the symptoms of PTSD since being shot and wounded while covering the war in Bosnia.

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Pain, pleasure and the capacity to relate

uclzean30 May 2014

Melencolia I, 1514 by Albrecht Dürer

Melencolia I, 1514 by Albrecht Dürer

My first UCL Festival of the Arts lecture began with Tim Matthews (UCL French) and Juliet Mitchell (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) discussing the relationship between art and psychoanalysis.

Mitchell, a well-known figure in literary criticism and psychoanalysis, has written on sexual difference, hysteria and siblings. Matthews’s work currently focuses on the work of Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

The talk was introduced as how psychoanalysis uses art and myth in order to find representations of psychic issues. ‘Art is about reaching out to others’, said Matthews, ‘its subjectivity relates to people who aren’t there.’ Psychoanalysis occupies a similar realm it is a client ‘reaching out to people who are not there, the events are in the past’.

Both psychoanalysis and art and indeed life, according to Mitchell, deal with unconscious purposes. ‘We live largely through unconscious processes’, psychoanalysis seeks to find out what those unconscious processes are and art attempts to represent them.

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