Sick! The Psychoanalytic Field Hospital

The psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi conceived of a book on “genital catastrophes” while working in a Field Hospital during World War I. Extending Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, any attempted return to origins brings not personal bliss but further trauma and sexual violence. The English psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion was a tank commander in World War I and treated army deserters in World War II. Analyzing groups instead of individuals, he discovered phenomena like the psychotic sexual wish to pair with a leader and bring forth the second coming of Christ. Psychoanalysis, one could say, goes through a conversion during the two world wars. 

Housed in a 10,000 square foot former limousine garage, the field hospital represents the latest in self-diagnosis technology and immersive theater. Participants meet the head matron of the hospital upon entry, and complete their diagnosis and intake forms. Now patients, they are shuttled toward 20 professional psychoanalysts on the second floor, where they will then be broken up into groups and subjected to stupendous levels of bureaucracy, psychiatric diagnostic labels, insurance adjustment panels, and the like. For those of us who haven’t had enough of the feeling that we are collectively living in a mental hospital, the Psychoanalytic Field Hospital seeks to elevate confusion, contradiction, and chaos to the level of an art form.

PREMIERE November 10, 2018
LOCATION Project-Q, New York City
PERSONNEL Vanessa Place, Alec Hall, Jamieson Webster, Eric Anthamatten and Todd Altschuler.
DURATION Approximately 90 minutes
TECHNOLOGY Live audio processing, sample playback, live MIDI performance, costumes, lighting, site-specificity