On Thursday, I went to to hear a talk between psychoanalyst Susie Godsil and photographer Martin Parr. It was part of an ongoing series of events called Connecting Conversations that is organised by Rowan Arts. The event brings together someone from a branch of psychoanalysis with a practitioner from a creative field to talk about their artistic practice and usually, I would have avoided it.
I am not a Freudian, or for that matter a Lacanian, Kleinian or Jungian either. I might not go as far as to call psychoanalysis bunk, and Benjamin Y. Fong makes a good case here for something that ends up sounding a lot like art, but generally it doesn’t work for me. I think you can read into people’s actions, thoughts, desires, but I don’t see that going back to early childhood looking for the cause is worth the trip, and the idea of watching two people for 90 minutes do just that was a little off-putting.
However, as I now a trustee of Rowan Arts, I decided to park my prejudice and give it a go. This being my first Connecting Conversations, I can’t say how far this talk was similar or different to the other talks in the series. There was however much less Godsil and much more Parr than I expected. This might have been part of the plan, but I suspect, if it was, it was Parr’s plan and he gave a seasoned performance.
We heard about his collections starting from bird pellets (new to me – the undigestable parts of a bird’s food that is thrown up) through to Gaddafi watches. He called his childhood in Surrey boring and talked about a photography campaign he is doing for Ibis Hotels. He would prefer to go to Angkor Wat at the busiest time of the year with thousands of other people, given the choice between that and being there on his own without a camera, precisely because he want to take photographs of how busy it is. And he smiles when he calls himself out for being a hypocrite.
It reminded me of a meeting that I chaired last year, where one person at the table ignored questions and talked without pause in an effort to fill the meeting with her agenda. She was good. Parr was better.
At the end, while we all applauded, including Godsil and the compere, Parr took a sip from his glass of water. I found the whole event thoroughly entertaining, and after this I will definitely be trying it again.