Seminar: Kunst, Wissenschaft und Wahnsinn / Art, Science, and Madness (Dr. Marlon Miguel)

Blockseminar – 12.04/13.04/19.04/20.04, 11:00-16:45 Uhr

Seminarraum 103 in der Helmholtzstraße 15

**English version below**  

Dieses Seminar fokussiert sich auf die kreativen Produktionen, die als "Kunst", "Irrenkunst" oder präziser ausgedrückt als "poetische Ausdrucksformen" bezeichnet werden können. Diese stammen von Menschen, die unter Bedingungen leiden, die von medizinischen Institutionen als geistige Erkrankungen identifiziert wurden. Wir werden die Entwicklung und die Grenzen der Diskurse untersuchen, die im Laufe des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts in Mitteleuropa entstanden sind, um diese Produktionen zu definieren.  

Zu Beginn erläutern wir das Aufeinanderprallen zweier unterschiedlicher Paradigmen, die zu Beginn des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts miteinander konkurrierten, um die Beziehung zwischen Kunst und Wahnsinn zu beleuchten. Auf der einen Seite steht die Romantisierung des Wahnsinns, vertreten insbesondere durch den Surrealismus und Expressionismus. Hier gelten die von den "Verrückten" geschaffenen Kunstwerke als Manifestationen reiner, roher und authentischer Erfindungen, die den romantischen Mythos des wahnsinnigen, genialen Schöpfers verkörpern. Demgegenüber steht das Paradigma, das eine Korrelation des Wahnsinns mit Diskursen über die menschliche Degeneration betont. Nach diesem Verständnis werden diese Produktionen als Beweis für Pathologie und menschlichen Verfall betrachtet, wie von Hans Prinzhorn entwickelt. Diese Beweise setzen einen natürlichen Unterschied zwischen dem Normalen und dem Pathologischen voraus, was den "Wahnsinnigen" entmenschlicht.  

Im zweiten Schritt beschäftigen wir uns mit der Rückkehr des Mythos der authentischen und spontanen Schöpfung, der sich in der Nachkriegszeit unter Begriffen wie "art brut" oder "outside art", geprägt von Jean Dubuffet, manifestierte.  

Im dritten und letzten Teil Seminars untersuchen wir kritische Alternativen zu den Art-Brut-Diskursen, insbesondere die Vorschläge von Mário Pedrosa. Er entwickelte in seinem Dialog mit der Psychiaterin Nise da Silveira ein erneuertes Konzept des "Ausdrucks".


This seminar focuses on the creative productions – labelled as ‘art’, ‘mad art’ or rather, as I prefer, ‘poetic expressions’ – by individuals suffering from something that has been identified by medical institutions as mental illness. It examines the evolution and limitations of discourses that emerged in central Europe throughout the twentieth century to define these productions.

In a first moment, we will elaborate on the clash of two divergent paradigms that in the early twentieth century competed to elucidate the relationship between art and madness: on the one hand, the romanticization of madness; on the other, madness’s correlation with discourses on human degeneration. According to the first paradigm, represented in particular by Surrealism and Expressionism, artworks produced by the ‘mad’ constituted manifestations of pure, raw and authentic invention, actualizing the romantic myth of the mad-genius-creator. According to the second paradigm, these productions became evidence of pathology and human decay, as developed by Hans Prinzhorn. This evidence presupposed a natural difference between the normal and the pathological that dehumanized the ‘insane’.

In a second moment, we will explore the return of the myth of the authentic and spontaneous creation – crystalized in the post-war period under concepts such as art brut/ outside art as coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet.

In a third and final moment, we will investigate critical alternatives to art brut-related discourses, shifting our attention in particular to the propositions developed by Brazilian critic Mário Pedrosa in his dialogue with psychiatrist Nise da Silveira around a renewed concept of ‘expression’.

Past Events

Bichos. Animal Fantasies between Art and Madness

Symposium, 14 – 15 Jun 2023

Organized by Delfina Cabrera, Marlon Miguel and Elena Vogman 

An ICI Berlin Event in cooperation with the research project ‘Madness, Media, Milieus. Reconfiguring the Humanities in Postwar Europe’ (Volkswagen Stiftung/Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

First came the world of the living, then life and death, after the dead, after the bichos and the animals, you make yourself comfortable as a bichos and as an animal.

Stella do Patrocínio

From the late 1960s onwards, Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920–1988) developed a series of unstable and manipulable sculptures that she named bichos — ‘beast’, ‘animal’, or ‘critter’. These unconventional objects constituted a turning point in Clark’s artistic trajectory as she progressively moved away from the Neo-Concrete Movement, shifting her focus towards the frontier between artistic and clinical practice. Already with the bichos, Clark thought about how spectators could transform and de-subjectivate themselves, perhaps becoming more than human by interacting with these abstract but nevertheless organic objects. Later, convinced that she could revitalize the field of art through psychotherapeutic techniques, Clark claimed that her work was ‘a state of art, without art’, where both art and the clinic could retrieve their critical potential vis-à-vis dominant modes of subjectivation.



Madness, Media, Milieus. Félix Guattari in Context

Conference; 17, 18 and 21 Jun 2021

Organized by Henning Schmidgen, Mathias Schönher, Elena Vogman

With Andrew Goffey, Angela Melitopoulos, Marlon Miguel, François Pain, Peter Pál Pelbart, Anne Querrien, and Anne Sauvagnargues

This conference explores Félix Guattari's (1930–1992) multifaceted oeuvre as largely informed by his many years of active work at the psychiatric clinic of La Borde.


International Atelier »Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Year 51« on 13-14 January 2023, at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in English

Organized by Elena Vogman and Marlon Miguel

In cooperation with Carles Guerra, Angela Melitopoulos & Matteo Pasquinelli

‘Madness, Media, Milieus. Reconfiguring the Humanities in Postwar Europe’, at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar in cooperation with Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

“How things turn fascist or revolutionary is the problem of the universal delirium about which everyone is silent, first of all and especially the psychiatrists”

“Every delirium is first of all the investment of a field that is social, economic, political, cultural, racial and racist, pedagogical, and religious

–Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia


Assembling Milieus – Working the Camera after Fernand Deligny

Workshop; 28 and 29 Oct 2021

Organized by Marlon Miguel

An ICI Berlin Event in cooperation with the projects ‘La tentative Deligny’ (EUR ArTec) and ‘Madness, Media, Milieus. Reconfiguring the Humanities in Postwar Europe’ (Volkswagen Stiftung/ Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

Mostly known for his experimentations with ‘maladjusted’ individuals and autistic children, and for his influence on the revolutions in post-war psychiatry, Fernand Deligny was neither director nor scriptwriter, certainly not a historian of cinema; his writings do not constitute a theory of the image. Nonetheless, cinema is constantly called into his practice, and images can be regarded as one of the main sources of his conceptual reflection.


Learning with Madness. François Tosquelles and the Invention of Institutional Psychotherapy

Atelier; 14-15 July 2022

Organized by Elena Vogman and Marlon Miguel

With contributions by Carles Guerra Rojas, Sophie Legrain, Henning Schmidgen, Elisabeth von Samsonow, Felix Brieden and Emanuel Almborg

Including a presentation of films and a series of talks by international scholars, the two-day workshop aims at exploring Tosquelles’ multidimensional practice, giving special attention to media as therapeutic instruments and processes of transference.


Reducing Climate

Symposium; 9 Jun 2022

Organized by Xenia Chiaramonte and Sarath Jakka

An ICI Event in cooperation with ‘Madness, Media, Milieus. Reconfiguring the Humanities in Postwar Europe’ (Volkswagen Stiftung/ Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

The notion of reduction is central to the discourse on climate disaster and environmental collapse. A political understanding of climate has led to urgent calls for ever increasing measures aiming at reduction—for example reducing emissions or consumption. Such calls are based on the premise that there can be quantitative remedies to the current environmental disaster. However well-intentioned, earnest, and necessary such approaches are, this symposium would like to pose the provocative question whether the current will for quantitatively defined action against climate breakdown might actually be a symptom of—rather than a solution to—the problem at hand.