Charlie James Gallery: Bottom Floor curated by Max Maslansky


“Art differs from dreaming not only because it makes the unconscious conscious–a purely cognitive relation–but also because it liberates repressed instincts–a libidinal relation.” ––Norman O. Brown The libido is commonly understood as unconscious or conscious sexual desire. Alternatively, it’s an undifferentiated energy that underlies thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. The former is Freud’s sex-obsessive account of the psycho-sexual apparatus, while the latter is Jung’s idea of de-sexualized energy. Most of the works in this show were (probably) organized around Freud’s formulation of the libido given my proclivities, but not limited to it. In general, in the cognitive floor plan, the bottom is the best place for the libido’s ‘energy’ to expand. The show itself is on the bottom floor too, literally in the basement. Every artist, at some point, goes to the basement. Here, she uses the distortion of the unconscious by means of condensation and displacement, but never to the point where the viewer cannot detect a position. The superego, the ever-present ethicist, which presides above, always leaves its traces at the bottom floor and on the art object. It loves to annotate and frame as much as the body loves to make a mess. It’s for this reason that not all these works are ‘unfettered’ expressions of libidinal desire. If someone told me they were, I’m not sure I’d believe him. “Bottom Floor” is a selection of artists who I’ve observed to combat personal and societal repressions through the art-object, and to discover the scope of each one’s real desires. In the words of Rilke, they seek to find the unlived lines of the body.

“Art differs from dreaming not only because it makes the unconscious conscious–a purely cognitive relation–but also because it liberates repressed instincts–a libidinal relation.”

––Norman O. Brown

The libido is commonly understood as unconscious or conscious sexual desire. Alternatively, it’s an undifferentiated energy that underlies thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. The former is Freud’s sex-obsessive account of the psycho-sexual apparatus, while the latter is Jung’s idea of de-sexualized energy. Most of the works in this show were (probably) organized around Freud’s formulation of the libido given my proclivities, but not limited to it. In general, in the cognitive floor plan, the bottom is the best place for the libido’s ‘energy’ to expand. The show itself is on the bottom floor too, literally in the basement.

Every artist, at some point, goes to the basement. Here, she uses the distortion of the unconscious by means of condensation and displacement, but never to the point where the viewer cannot detect a position. The superego, the ever-present ethicist, which presides above, always leaves its traces at the bottom floor and on the art object. It loves to annotate and frame as much as the body loves to make a mess. It’s for this reason that not all these works are ‘unfettered’ expressions of libidinal desire. If someone told me they were, I’m not sure I’d believe him. “Bottom Floor” is a selection of artists who I’ve observed to combat personal and societal repressions through the art-object, and to discover the scope of each one’s real desires. In the words of Rilke, they seek to find the unlived lines of the body.