Elisabeth Bronfen: Family Entanglements


Thursday, May 27, 2021
6:30 – 7:15 pm
YouTube video premiere

The Mildred and George Weissman Program

Elisabeth Bronfen considers an important aspect of Louise Bourgeois’ multi-faceted engagement with Freudian psychoanalysis: an aesthetic appropriation of the language of hysteria. As an artist who uses her past as her material, Bourgeois is both the target and the agent of the destructive force she unravels. By transforming pain into artworks, she defended herself against what distressed her and engaged with this torment, along with her aggression and her guilt. Passage Dangereux, the large “cell” installation included in Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter, encapsulates these two sides of Bourgeois’ restoration of the past, staging her entanglement in her family story as an intricate memory theater in which each individual chamber revisits a scene of psychic wounding, while inviting us to share this passage with her.

The Mildred and George Weissman Program has been endowed by Paul, Ellen, and Dan Weissman in honor of their parents.

About the Speaker:

Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Zurich and, since 2007, Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. In 2017, she was awarded the Martin Warnke Medal by the Aby Warburg Foundation, and in 2018, she was appointed as an Ambassador of the Friedrich-Alexander-University. A specialist in the 19th and 20th century literature, she has also written articles in the area of gender studies, psychoanalysis, film, cultural theory and visual culture.

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Louise Bourgeois, Passage Dangereux (detail), 1997, Metal, wood, tapestry, rubber, marble, steel, glass, bronze, bones, flax, and mirrors