Relative Relations

This book Relative Relations was made during my artist's residency at the Freud Museum in 2006 and is the result of an exhibition, which was a tribute to Freud on the 150th celebration of his birth.

In Relative Relations I pair my created works with Freud's collected works. Sigmund Freud collected over 2000 objects of antiquity. These were Egyptian, Classical and Eastern sculptures. Freud collected sculpture.

During my residency at the museum I made a series of drawings of those sculptures. They can be seen on this website under 2D drawings.

I found remarkable similarities between works I had previously made and the objects Freud had chosen to collect. He collected medals, reliefs and busts, figures and fragments, all of which appear in my past body of work. Any intent to follow in Freud's footsteps 'in matters of preference' was certainly not a conscious one. Whether unconscious or programmed it remains - a twinned collection.

In Relative Relations I show photographs of these pairings. This is a posthumous collaboration on the part of Sigmund Freud and I only hope he likes it and is in agreement! Otherwise, as a self proclaimed atheist he is blissfully unaware.

'Relative Relations' was nominated for the AXA art exhibition catalogue of the year.

This art book documents the corresponding exhibition in triptych, symbolically shown in three venues. At the Muzeum Novojicinska in Pribor, Czech Republic (Sigmund Freud's first home); at his last home, now the Freud Museum in Hampstead and also at the Harrow Museum local to my current home.

It is strange to think that Freud, the famous Viennese analyst was Czech. With the borders having changed, what was Austro-Hungary (with Vienna as its capital) has since become the Czech Republic. Freud's birth place which was at the time in Austria is now located in the Czech Republic, rarely acknowledged in writing but recognised conceptually through my exhibition and its documentation.

Relative Relations features 36 pages of colour photographs. The texts include a preface by Michael Molnar - Director of The Freud Museum, an introductory essay by Henry Kim - Curator at the Ashmolean Museum and a closing essay by Rune Frederiksen - Classical Archaeologist and Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, It also contains my interview conducted by Stephen Feeke - Curator at the Henry Moore Institute.

This art book tells a story. 'Chapter one: The Door Opens' leads onto 'Chapter two: Behind the Curtains'. As in a novel these suggestive titles go on to unravel the 'plot'. My story is revealed through the paralleled images of my works displayed alongside Freud's antiquities. Illustrated new works are also explained through the narrative which is further played out in the interview. The pairings explore the link between influence and coincidence, narration and relation. I examine those links through our common interest - sculpture

Relative Relations shows ancient and modern objects displayed side by side, setting up subtle resonances which become further evident in the film "Dead or Alive", a preview of which can be seen on this website under 4D time based

The film shows the pairings morphing into each other. This merging back and forth of Freud's antiquities to my sculptures, from past to present virtually closes the gap of time. Great similarities can be found in the forms and motifs of the pairs At a midway point the two objects merge together and form a third image of a "virtual" object, different from both, that does not exist but is a combination of the two. For me this is the unknown:- but what I really like is that the third object is in many cases an aesthetic improvement on both the individual objects.
The film is accompanied by the background music of Kathleen Ferrier. The classical music sung by Kathleen Ferrier is from three tracks. One of the tracks is "I Will Lay Me Down in Peace" by Maurice Green. I chose this music as Kathleen Ferrier was a contemporary of Freud and they are neighbours in death at the Golders Green Crematorium in London. (I like the idea of Freud analyzing Ferrier while she sings to him, therefore entertaining each other in the long expanse).

You will notice that there are two breaks in the music. One is to symbolize the tragedy that the singer, seriously ill with bone cancer, suffered. She got through the opening night of Orfeo successfully, but at the second performance a bone in her leg broke while she was on stage. This was her final performance. The other break in the music is to symbolize the break in Sigmund Freud's only BBC broadcast. A bomb fell and he was rushed off unable to finish.
The title "…Dead or Alive" references one of the images shown in the book under the chapter of the same name. This image shows a photo of the famous couch merged with my drawing of Freud smoking a cigar. There are many ideas here. One of the ideas is about Freudian theory and whether it is still relevant in psychoanalysis. The other idea behind the image is that Freud is perhaps more alive in death (as an icon) than he was in life where being looked was not his favourite occupation. Ironically, everyone would now recognise Freud's image as it is so frequently seen. The final idea behind putting Freud on his own couch is to show that he was not his own best therapist as he is continuing to smoke which was the cause of his ill health, much pain and eventual death. He fought this addiction for much of his adult life yet with all his knowledge of the mind and how it works he could not apply it to himself suggesting that one cannot administer ones own therapy.

I believe that culturally we need what Freud gave us, (psychoanalysis) as much now as we ever did and that its genuine use in politics and diplomacy between nations might help peoples and nations to get on with each other.

Relative Relations is a Limited Edition hardback of 300. Any edition after this, should I be so lucky, would be in paperback.
300 is a very small edition for a book and rarity is economically always a good thing.

© Jane McAdam Freud