MEME-WORK: PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE ALT-RIGHT

IVAN KNAPP
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
PHD HISTORY OF ART

The chapter 2 of this PHD entitled “Meme-work: psychoanalysis and the Alt-right” is devoted to Mouchette.org (page 115 to 149)

“Chapter 2 proposes a reconsideration of net.art aesthetics in the wake of the alt-right through an examination of Martine Neddam’s seminal website project mouchette.org.
My concern in this chapter turns on putting the earnest investments mouchette.org makes in an emancipatory or liberatory horizontality flowing from the affordances of Web technologies into contact with the work’s many, and strangely overlooked, relations to surrealism. Opening to mouchette.org’s dialogue with surrealism, I ask what it means to recuperate and project hysteria into the nascent imaginative horizons of Web cultures. For the figure of surrealism we find re-animated on the website would appear to trouble the very optimism it otherwise appears to so devoutly protect. To provide a more expansive discursive context to my line of enquiry, I introduce a third iteration of horizontality in this chapter which emerges from a coterminous return to surrealism in art discourse and its critique by Bois, Krauss and Foster. As these writers make plain, surrealism, especially dissident surrealism, cannot be read through the psychic resonances of the moment’s media-technological imagination without confronting, especially at the level of gender, the dynamics of that fascist subjectivity Foster recognizes on his television. In place of a more definite mapping of the correspondences between these concepts and projects, I suggest a psychoanalytic account of the illusions of the group, fantasies which are by turns invigorating and paralysing, can be read through the website’s long duration and transhistorical gestures. To this end, I consider how regression might be conceptualised by way of Mitchell’s sibling theory, as a process of desocialization. Ultimately, I argue that mouchette.org appears stuck on a lost conviction that closes to a future it once beckoned.”

From ‘Introduction’ page 35/36

Read the PHD online here: MEME-WORK: PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE ALT-RIGHT

Download the whole pdf here: ‘Meme-work_Psychoanalysis and the alt-right’

Ivan Knapp

PhD supervisor: Professor Mignon Nixon
Working title for PhD: ‘Meme-work: Psychoanalysis and the alt-right’My thesis attempts to elaborate the psychic dynamics of the alt-right by reading certain of its visual objects, in particular memes, as well as artworks which touch on alt-right sensibilities, through psychoanalytic theories of dreams, the group and male hysteria. I ask, What can the psychoanalytic vocabularies these theories provide surface of the ‘work’ these objects perform, participate in, or contest? The thesis thus considers how certain historical figurations of online sociality are legible to what psychoanalytic theorists have characterized as pathologies of everyday life at the level of fantasy, gender, and the psychic life of groups. Using the languages of psychoanalysis alongside those of art history, this research forwards theorizations of gender and the group that entangle new technological affordances and digital ecologies.This PhD project is fully funded by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (AHRC).
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I didn’t understand how my work fitted into his psychoanalytic theories. Of course i’m not acquainted at all with the work of Mitchell, the sibling theory and male hysteria… So I completely missed his point in associating my work with the Alt-right (whether against it, or aside or whatever…).
I did appreciate the connections he makes with surrealism and dreams and the Poupées of Hans Bellmer, which I always loved, so yes, I acknowledge the filiation here.
I was also grateful he develops the question of preservation related to my work (Generative Preservation), and also that of Annet Dekker (Networks of Care), he must have attended my lecture either in London or in Dundee, although I didn’t see how it fitted his own theories… But anyway, thanks for the work, Ivan Knapp!


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