When we asked the Belgian visual artist Catho Hensmans to interpret the theme of the Congress of PIPOL 11, her answer was as good as we expected and the surprise was there!
In the manner of « to do without / to make use of it » (1), a famous formulation of our field, Catho explores the past, leans against it to then plunge it into the biting bath of life. As a sensitive plaque of our world, the artist seized family portraits and photos of ancestors that she riddled with colours in subtle nuances.
Each locket of the poster recalls the cameo, the miniature artefact imbued with grace and history. The artist revisits it; she sharpens her pencil and each touch of colour incises and enhances the portraits from the old-fashioned world of the Artis-Historia (2) books. Their outdated aesthetic code is thwarted, a new visual evocation broadens our field. The small conventional and conforming portraits have been given a new look. It is no longer the father's measure that imposes itself, each one has its own way, each its own style. The lockets, a kind of mirror of the contemporary world, leave us disoriented, the portraits of yesteryear have taken a hit, they become enigmatic. With pleasure, we get lost.
The family tree suggested by the artist is lopsided, the barely sketched branches seem fragile, the system of filiation is disturbed, we can't find our way around. But never mind, with Catho Hensmans we pass from filiation to « fillation ». In the foreground, the bearded woman, unless this figure is some kind of metrosexual, replaces the pre-eminence of the paterfamilias. At the top, the grandfather, very small, is at the very edge of the frame, he could disappear. On the left, a child that has no connection with the other portraits. Certainly, this tree is no longer built on the patrilineal genealogy of tracing the thread of history from son to father, using a family name as the basis for the work; it is subverted by multiple twists and turns operated by both the artist and the graphic designer, Eva Van Rumst!
She has effectively taken over the work and the theme by destructuring each locket, which evokes for us, the observation made by Jacques-Alain Miller in his course Les us du laps, that « today, the symbolic order is moth-eaten » (3).
We thank them both for their respective work. Each of them, through their graphic proposals, have nourished the debates of the commission of Pipol 11!
Catho Hensmans is a visual artist and a founding member of the K1L publishing house: who is in charge of the creation and distribution of the magazine « Actuel, l'estampe contemporaine ». In addition to her artistic work, she travels through the villages of Belgium with a mobile workshop offering various audiences a creative and artistic moment shared through different engraving techniques. This initiative is called « Impress your village ». http://www.cathohensmans.org
1. Vth Congress of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in Rome, 2006 : Le Nom-du-Père. S’en passer, s’en servir (The name of the Father. To do without, to make use of it)
2. Artis – Historia is a Belgian publishing house, which published books in the second half of the 20th century.
3. Miller, J.-A., « L’orientation lacanienne. Les us du laps », lecture given at the department of psychoanalysis of the University of Paris VIII, lesson of January 26, 2000, unpublished.
Translated from French by: Polina Agapaki and Raphaël Montague
Proof read by: Tracy Favre