Event | Lecture

The Legacy of Catalan Psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles: At the Crossroads of Anti-authoritarian Politics, Institutional Psychotherapy and the Postwar European Cultural Avantgarde

Dr. Carles Guerra (Visiting Professor in Catalan Studies, CEMS)

Introduced by Edward Dioguardi (NYU, American Folk Art Museum)

Respondent: Camille Robcis (Columbia University)

Based on years of research about Francesc Tosquelles (1912-1994), a Catalan psychiatrist working in the early 20th-century, Carles Guerra will present a talk on the large scale exhibition he curated on Tosquelles for several European institutions. A new installament of this acclaimed exhibition will open at the American Folk Art Museum next spring in NYC.

As part of this project, Guerra is working to preserve Tosquelles’s library, personal archive and filmography. His talk draws on his experiece as both a curator and scholar working on the centrality of Southern European influences (more precisely, Catalan political innovations in in the domain of civil society) at the source of radical transformations in Postwar France.

Tosquelles was not only a psychiatrist but an intellectual standing at the core of a revolution that proposed institutional analysis as a medical, political and cultural threefold shift in the context of World War II and the Postwar period in France. This experience fed from the innovative clinical, political and institutional transformations in Catalonia just before the Spanish Civil War. Nowadays, Tosquelles is regarded as a key influence on thinkers like Frantz Fanon (who was an intern working with Tosquelles from 1952 through 1953) and Felix Guattari. Poets like Paul Eluard and Tristan Tzara, philosophers like Georges Canguilhem, film critic like Georges Sadoul, filmmakers associated to Cinéma direct like Mario Ruspoli, and many more, took refuge in the Psychiatric Hospital of Saint-Alban during the early forties and through the sixties under Tosquelles’s influence.
Pre-Event Screening 5-6pm:

Watching Tosquelles Films

A work in progress by Carles Guerra based on five reels previously assembled by Tosquelles:

Suite en noir - Congrès et voyages (1 and 2), Venezuela 1967 and Mexico 1967 (1 and 2). 2022, 37 minutes.

As a prologue to the lecture on the Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles (Reus 1912- Granges-sur-Lot, 1994) and his legacy, the screening of Watching Tosquelles Films offers the possibility to see Tosquelles filming with his 8mm Paillard camera that he acquired in 1953. The absence of sound has been filled in with intertitles that provide clues that help us recreate who might be filmed, where and when. These are images that in spite of their muted character reveal the extraordinary network that constituted the bulk of institutional psychotherapy in the French Postwar period, including figures like Frantz Fanon, George Daumézon and Jean Oury.

This composite film has been edited by Carles Guerra out of five reels shot by Tosquelles between 1953 and 1967 and preserved by his son up until very recently. The film is in itself a material to see through and to think along with as part of an ongoing research restoring Tosquelles' influence.

Carles Guerra is the inaugural visiting professor at the program for Catalan studies hosted by the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at NYU Arts & Science (CEMS) in collaboration with the Institut Ramon Llull.

He is an artist, art critic, independent researcher and curator who has extensively worked in the field of modern and contemporary art, critical pedagogies and documentary practices. He received his PhD on Fine Arts from Universitat de Barcelona in 2006. From 1996 through 1998 he was a Fulbright grantee at the Media Studies Department of The New School for Social Research, New York.

Dr. Guerra teaches film and museum studies at Universitat Pompeu Fabra since 2006. He was a visiting professor and guest lecturer at the Center for Curatorial Studies Bard College, Goldsmiths University of London, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, NTU Center for Contemporay Art Singapore and KU Leuven Center for Photography.

He is currently a member of the Collège de photographie et image animée of the Center Nationale d'Arts Plastiques CNAP in France. He was director of La Virreina Centre de la Imatge (2009-2011), Chief Curator of MACBA Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona (2011-2013) and executive director of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies (2015-2020).

He has taken care of an extensive list of monographic exhibitions that include artists such as Perejaume, Joaquim Jordà, Xavier Ribas, Ahlam Shibli, Art & Language, Allan Sekula, Susan Meiselas, Harun Farocki, Oriol Vilanova, Patricia Dauder and Ariella Aïsha Azoulay. He has also curated projects such as Antiphotojournalism (with T. E. Keenan, 2010), 1979. A Monument to Radical Instants (2011), 1989. After the Conversations of Algiers. Delirium and Truce (2016) and Antoni Tàpies. Political Biography (2018).

His latest research project has dealt with Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles, a figure at the crossroad of anti-authoritarian policies, the emergence of Institutional Psychotherapy and the Postwar European cultural avantgarde. This project has been presented at Musée Les Abattoirs in Toulouse, the CCCB Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. In April 2024 it will open at the American Folk Art Museum in New York.

One of his most recent publications is Restitutions. Photography in Debt with its Past (2023), published by KBr Fundación MAPFRE, a collective volume gathering contributions from scholars, photographers and activists coming to terms with the unwanted effects of photography over time.