TIZ 7. Healing Institutions
All institutions declare the benevolence of their origins: to satisfy a need, to fulfil a just aspiration. Thus, every institution oscillates between need and utopia, forming a complex network of practices and mediums, possibilities and interests, where errors, deviations and perversions are also manifested. Paradoxically, only in this anomalous space can the institution be truly inhabited. Only from inside this mesh can it name a beyond and permeate its limits in the drift towards an extraneous space, towards an exteriority where the institution, which is realised as it dissolves, is no longer able to truly fulfil the destiny to which it supposedly aspires. It is from these premises that ideas reverberate to foster the institutional health set in motion by exiled psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles. Since December 2022, via the programme Perturbable School II, seminars on political violence and institutions, the work of Margarita Azurdia, and other situated voices, this Temporary Intensity Zone raises questions around the illness and healing of the institutions that shape us and the bodies with which we traverse and make them.
This international congress is the first activity to be held inside the framework of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s Death in 2023. Its title alludes to Picasso’s renowned prints under the title Sueño y mentira de Franco (The Dream and Lie of Franco, 1937), and investigates, from the field of Cultural Studies, Picasso’s relationship with the challenges, crises and transformations that shook Spain in the period stretching from the 1898 Disaster to the end of the Rif War in the 1920s. Bohemia, anarchism, nationalism-colonialism and repressive institutional policies in relation to women are the ideas that run along the four elements articulating the congress and look to shed more light on this period.
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 and online platform
There has been a sharp rise in depression and anxiety since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated by a situation of structural inequality and precarity which chiefly affects women and young people. Inside a national framework with a lack of public health services, the aim, from activism in general and the determination of feminisms in particular, is to spotlight these key life questions. This encounter, conducted by Sara Buraya, coordinator of Museo en Red in the Museo, and activist Rafaela Pimentel, brings together activist women over mental health as they reflect on these issues from their own experiences.
Nouvel Building, Protocol Room and online platform
This programme makes headway through conversations and a laboratory-carnival, prompting a close-up view of the limitations of concepts such as “heal”, “illness” and “mental health” — from psychoanalytical knowledge and other cosmovisions which do not understand the world from the opposition of nature and culture — while proposing the creation of clinical-political-artistic interventions which extrapolate habitual spaces of treatment. The aim is to break from the conservative nature of institutions, which are often limited to continuing the role for which they have been intended, with the idea of opening them out and making them more permeable to subjectivities which become central through difference.
The exhibition Francesc Tosquelles. Like a Sewing Machine in a Wheat Field introduces the concept of “ordinary men” to designate, generically, the instigators and executors of twentieth-century wars, as well as those who often fill psychiatric patients with fear. With this idea, the Museo organises a talk in which different researchers and activists shine a light on alternatives to this warlike mandate of standardised masculinity, showing the stories and testimonies of soldiers in different wars and their strategies to free themselves from conflict. The conversation, organised in collaboration with Madrid’s Teatro Real, is held in relation to the episode from Estacio’s Aquileida — a sequence where Thetis disguises Achilles as a woman to stop him going to the Trojan War — performed from 17 February in the opera Achille in Sciro.
This study group on mental health and community action explores the malaise of capitalism, compounded by the world health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is configured around six sessions held in the Museo and the Centro Municipal de Salud Comunitaria in Villa de Vallecas and includes readings, conversations with guests, performance lectures, work sessions with Radios Locas and visits to the Museo Reina Sofía Collection and its temporary exhibitions. The second part explores in greater depth the debate around the unease that crosses through these sessions.
Surrealism understood that individuals must free themselves from the symbolic institutions which, as with class, constrained possible ways of life. Thus, it set out to change subjectivity to change the world, and vice versa, which meant that, opposite political institutions, the Surrealists found in psychanalysis an arsenal of tools as much to understand to read and operate devices and grammar from the unconscious as to dislodge them. The ideas of Surrealism would underpin a fruitful artistic practice which also stretched beyond art. If capitalism has taken away, through commodities, the imaginary power of common imagination, then Surrealism attempted, as Walter Benjamin asserted, “to win the energies of intoxication for the revolution” via a programme based on transgression and the social liberation of the unconscious.
Sabatini Building, Floor 2
In the first three decades of the twentieth century, the arrival en masse of workers from the country to industrial cities caused, through a housing deficit, the proliferation of huts and shacks and increased social unrest. This situation gave rise to different urban planning initiatives, many drawing inspiration from the ideas of nineteenth-century cooperative members like Charles Fourier, who would devise the phalanstère. Framed within utopian socialism is a community conceived as a space of production, consumption and residency in which there are no salaries or private property. The rooms display plans, scale models and photographs associated with some of these projects, all of them modern institutions seeking to respond, architecturally, to social problems.
Sabatini Building, Floor 2
Some exiled psychiatrists, such as Francesc Tosquelles and Josep Solanes, established exile as an illness of the soul. Thus, opposite the trauma awakened by the Spanish Civil War and displacement, there emerged in this uprooting an identity marked by dispossession, rootlessness and estrangement. This room displays works by artists who sought to heal this wound, such as Maruja Mallo, Pablo Picasso, Remedios Varo, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz and Ismael González, among others. Further, publications and documents are exhibited in the room which render an account of the huge intellectual exertion of many exiles who also worked in publishing, writing, printing, the creation of new institutions and so on. Endeavours they undertook to continue the spirit of the Second Republic and to denounce the warmongering that was being inhaled in 1930s Europe.
Sabatini Building, Floor 4
This exhibition traces the trajectory and political, cultural and professional context of Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles, his practice exploring the social root of mental illness, transforming, from humanisation, the psychiatric institution. During the Spanish Civil War and his subsequent exile to France, Tosquelles made writing, art and theatre an instrument of therapy. Imbued with learnings from Catalan cooperatives in the 1930s and humanisation, the psychiatrist transformed the concept of the psychiatric institution, characterised by suicides, authoritarianism and a fear of the sick. Drawing from the collective work of residents, carers, nuns, doctors, farmers, artists and intellectuals, he often managed to blur the limits between residents and psychiatrists, illness and healing.
Margarita Rita Rica Dinamita is the first European retrospective devoted to Margarita Azurdia, one of the twentieth century’s most emblematic Central American artists. The survey delves into her career, journeying through her vast output, which spans painting, sculpture, non-objectual art and artist’s books drafted with drawings, collages and poems. Retrospectively, it opens an in-depth view of the modern and contemporary art landscape and prompts an exploration of the artist’s creative metamorphosis which led her to examine the paradigm between art and spirit, investigating in greater depth ideas of care and healing linked to nature and the environment.
Sabatini Building, Floor 3
To exorcise the self-fulfilling prophecy which forces us to have little hope of a better future, the Argentinian publisher Caja Negra invites a group of historians, theorists and artists to conduct a series of four podcasts on the critical and cultural legacy of Mark Fisher. His death in 2017 further fuelled the caustic view of how neoliberalism manufactures objective and subjective conditions of a reality tailor-made from the cycle of exploitation, accumulation and profit. Moreover, the remains of his critical theory abound and enjoy new lives beyond death.
This podcast features an interview with researcher and visual artist María Ruido on her film Estado de malestar (State of Malaise, 2019), which centres on an analysis of malaise and illness stemming from capitalism in the Information Age. The film, structured around the voices of different activist groups in mental health and intellectuals, deals with themes that include overmedication and discourses on danger and security as mechanisms of silencing and maintaining the system of production. Estado de malestar is also part of the final chapter of the rehang of the Museo Reina Sofia Collection: Episode 8. Exodus and Communal Life (Sabatini Building, Floor 1).