Institut Ramon LLull

Joana Masó, the Josep Pla Visiting Chair in Catalan Studies at Stanford University

Universities.  Stanford University, CA, 20/10/2023

The seminar Curing the Institutions with Francesc Tosquelles. Politics and exile, desalienation and outsider art. will discuss the legacy of the Franco-Catalan psychiatrist Francesc/François Tosquelles. In the occupied France of the 1940s, he healed his patients by “curing” the psychiatric institution itself.

Using culture (amateur cinema, theater, and literature) and politics (self-management, cooperatives, and anti-Stalinist communism), Tosquelles worked and engaged with avantgarde poets like Paul Éluard, Antonin Artaud and Tristan Tzara, the post-colonial philosopher and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon and philosopher Félix Guattari. During those years, Tosquelles had a disagreement with the artist Jean Dubuffet, who invented the notion of outsider art (art brut) so as to name the artistic practices “executed by people untouched by artistic culture”. Tosquelles criticized the idea of a raw art because he refused to exoticize or alienate madness. Tosquelles’ project of humanization was shaped by radical politics in Catalonia during the 1930s and his own emancipation practices during the Spanish Civil War, when he resolved to treat the therapeutic community rather than the patients themselves. Tosquelles also worked with people outside the medical profession: musicians, writers, lawyers and even prostitutes. All these experiences resonate in the book that Tosquelles wrote on Catalan poet Gabriel Ferrater and the experience of the Spanish Civil War.

Joana Masó is a literary critic whose work focuses on the crossover between literature, thinking, and contemporary art. She is a senior lecturer at Barcelona University, a researcher at ADHUC–Research Centre for Theory, Gender and Sexuality, and the UNESCO chair, Women, Development and Cultures. She has curated exhibitions and translated several books of essays and books about French cinema and has published texts, in different languages, about the art of Hélène Cixous (Poetas en pintura. Escritos sobre arte: de Rembrandt a Nancy Spero) and the aesthetics and architecture of Jacques Derrida (Artes de lo visible [1979-2004] and Les arts de l’espace). Since 2017, she has coordinated the research project “The forgotten legacy of Francesc Tosquelles”, which has resulted in the publication of the volume Tosquelles. Curar les institucions (Arcàdia), recognized with the Premi Ciutat de Barcelona of Essay, Humanities and History 2021, and the exhibition "Francesc Tosquelles. Like a Sewing Machine in a Wheat Field", the result of a study process developed together with Carles Guerra.

Història potencial de Francesc Tosquelles, Catalunya i la por by director Mireia Sallarès

Potential history of Francesc Tosquelles, Catalonia and fear is an experimental film, part documentary, part speculative fiction. It starts from a fact: there is more in the past than is dreamt of in our history. It appropriates a concept developed by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay to narrate the “potential history” of Francesc Tosquelles, a Catalan psychiatrist, refugee from the Spanish civil war who ran a hospital in the middle of nowhere during the Nazi occupation of France. Revolutionary politics from the 1930s opened the way to revolutionizing therapy. In these extraordinary circumstances, one had to make do with precarious conditions. But this was a moment of experimentation: socially, with the help of nuns and sex workers, among many other people and culturally, with the use of cinema and the avant-garde arts.

This is a film about those who believed that psychiatry should not fear the insane. Because madness is not about others. It is about us.

Curing the Institutions with Francesc Tosquelles. Politics and exile, desalienation and outsider art.

September 25 - December 6, 2023

Screening of the documentary: Història potencial de Francesc Tosquelles, Catalunya i la por by director Mireia Sallarès.

Monday, October 30, 2023, at 4:30pm

Pigott Hall, Room 113

English subtitles.

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