The Unconscious – A conversation about art and psychoanalysis

What is the unconscious status in today’s psychoanalysis? Is it as relevant now as a critique of society, as it was in the surrealists’ day?


Sky Room

Sigmund Freud’s ideas around the unconscious had a huge effect on the 20th century. The term rose to give a new sense of what it means to be human. The unconscious also lay at the heart of the surrealists’ quest for a new art and a new way of seeing the world. In the unconscious the surrealists didn’t just discover the key to self-awareness, but also the seeds of radical liberation.

In this discussion Torberg Foss will initially reflect on the meaning of the unconscious in the 21st century. The introduction will be followed by a conversation between Foss and David Lomas about the history of the unconscious in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly its significance in art and literature.

The talk is arranged in collaboration with Norsk Psykoanalytisk Forening in connection to the exhibition The Savage Eye.

Torberg Foss is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and DPhil. He works as a private practitioner and is a former editor of the Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review. He has published several essays on psychoanalysis and literature, including ‘Guided by Homer: A psychoanalyst’s experience with epic poetry’ in S. Hevrøy (ed.), Å verta vâr verda att (To Be Worthy Is To Be), Novus Forlag, 2020).

David Lomas is professor emeritus in art history at the University of Manchester. Lomas trained as a doctor and has a PhD in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art (London). He has published a series of books and articles dealing with themes connected to surrealism, psychoanalysis and medicine.