The film Història potencial de Francesc Tosquelles, Catalunya i la por, by Mireia Sallarès and co-written with Joana Masó, was premiered in November 2021 at the festival Loop Barcelona. The “potential history” is an artistic practice that aims to explain the history that took place without leaving any written document. This makes the film a research and creation project that starts from what is known.
The Catalan artist and independent producer Mireia Sallarès (Barcelona, 1973) graduated in fine arts in Barcelona and Filmmaking in New York. She uses video as a narrating tool and as an anthropological research path, used to talk about the world’s complexity. Before the screening of the film about the Catalan psychiatrist who was exiled for more than 30 years in France, there was an exhibition on Franscesc Tosquelles too. It was shown from October 2021 until March 2022 at the Abbatoirs Museum in Toulouse, and it was coproduced by the museum itself along with CCCB (Barcelona), the Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid), and the American Folk Museum (New York).
Joana Masó (1978) is a Catalan philologist, translator, editor and professor. She is co-writer of the film, and she is also author of the book Tosquelles. Curar les institucions, published in 2021 and translated into various languages during the same year. The book includes a study of the periods and projects from which Tosquelles became a driver for change, rupture and revolution in the fields of the psychiatrist institution, cultural production and its context, and political resistance against fascism in the 30s and 40s. The selection of works by Tosquelles updates unpublished texts, essays by international researchers who consider the psychiatrist from Reus a figure of critical relevance. A large and detailed timeline and bibliography complete the edition with recently found data.
Francesc Tosquelles (Reus, 1912 – Granges-sur-Lot, 1994) has one of the more fascinating intellectual evolutions of the 20th century in Catalonia. He started the practice of psychiatry at the Institut Pere Mata in Reus during the booming revolution, in terms of patient treatment, to improve conditions and for the use of new therapies. Disciple of Emili Mira and attentive to the theories of Hermann Simon, Strauss and Jacques Lacan, Tosquelles articulated psychoanalysis and Marxism to establish the foundations of institutional psychotherapy. He partly used the original innovations brought in by the autonomous government of Catalonia and the Second Spanish Republic during the 20s and the 30s. The humanitarian emergency during the Spanish Civil War and World War II shaped the pragmatic attitude that lead Tosquelles to use psychiatry as an attempt to save people from catastrophe through socialisation and healing among equals. Even if he started in Catalonia, it was during his work at the hospital in Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole between 1940 and 1962, after staying at the internment camp of Setfonds, when he could develop his revolutionary project. At the hospital, he promoted new healing practices based on the collective condition, work, and artistic creation with patients (works that were collected by Jean Dubuffet and others, under the name of art brut. He also met there the physician Lucien Bonnafé, the surrealist poet Paul Éluard, the Dadaist theorist Tristan Tzara, the physician, philosopher and historian of mental illness George Canguilhem, and the writer psychiatrist and colonialism critic Frantz Fanon. All of them were avant-gardists both cultural, politic or from institutional critic of medicine and psychiatry.