Under the black cube wearing a white collar 

 Robert Mapplethorpe's two invites for  The Perfect Moment , which opened at two spaces in 1988: Holly Solomon exhibited the commercially viable portraits and flowers, while the experimental space The Kitchen exhibited the sex pictures. 

Robert Mapplethorpe's two invites for The Perfect Moment, which opened at two spaces in 1988: Holly Solomon exhibited the commercially viable portraits and flowers, while the experimental space The Kitchen exhibited the sex pictures. 


Kindly Supported by Artlinks.

I am inviting artists, curators and so on, to submit images or handwritten letters to be included in a printed publication launched later this year. THE SUBMISSION WINDOW IS FROM 1ST APRIL — 1ST SEPTEMBER 2018.

Images and words will be selected based on their sensibility and tone. The authors of selected images and letters will be randomly listed on the cover of the publication but not alongside their submissions. 

Before you submit keep in mind:

  1. Take time to critically reflect on your selected images and handwritten letters. 
  2. Submit high resolution images and high-quality-scanned handwritten letters. 
  3. Alternatively post handwritten letters (postal address given on request)
  4. No details regarding the date, medium, materials, dimensions, title are required. 
  5. Acknowledgment of receipt of images and letters will be prompt, but notification regarding inclusion in the publication will be the Winter. 
  6. 100 copies will be printed; every author of selected images will receive a copy, the rest will be distributed to interested parties. 
  7. Read below to get a better sense of the origins and aims of the project.

ORPHAN is a project first conceived in 2011 as a callout to artists and others involved in the making and distribution of art in Ireland. Each submitted image would reveal some aspect of the art making or exhibition process that was ‘orphaned’ in the process of making things right, professional, perfect. Each image was to be displayed in a publication, anonymously. The project was not about promoting the artist or art institution, but to proffer a view at the extraneous behaviours of the artist, beyond professionalism and towards some kind of vulnerable, shameful or uncomfortable truth.

The unrealised project was left by the wayside until this year when it came to the surface once again in the development of my current project which proposes **Refashioning the psychoanalytic relationship between art, artist and viewer through writing, editing and art projects in 2018.** 

Using psychoanalysis as a framework, something I have done in previous projects, like Deep-Seated (2016) and Madder Lake (2017), ORPHAN reaches out to artists nationally and internationally to reveal the deep-seated natures behind their work and life through the submission of anonymous images and/or handwritten letters. These submitted images and letters (invited and open submission) will specifically tap into the emotion, insecurities, shame, sex, sexuality, violence, joy, trauma, lies, self-censorship and so on that undergirds their art, professions, lives, but isn’t always shared or made explicit in the white-cube or public-sphere display of their work. Orphan propagandises the privacy of the individual in an era when privacy is a false commodity.

These images will form a booklet and inspire orphaned splices of text that will offset the images in the booklet.

A slideshow of the selected images foregrounded against music followed by a post-mortem conversation will take place at the launch of the publication. 

SUBMISSIONS TO: james.merrigan@gsa.ie ; postal address on request.

Read more about the Deep—Seated project below

 Gillian Wearing's 'Self-Portrait at Three Years Old' (2004), chromogenic print.

Gillian Wearing's 'Self-Portrait at Three Years Old' (2004), chromogenic print.


For the past five years I have taught psychoanalysis through art at Trinity College Dublin. Every year I tell the students that we cannot possibly cover art history in an meaningful way here, because we are primarily engaged with the psychoanalytic story not the story of art. So we approach art appreciation through a side door, a shortcut to the backstage where the artist foregrounds the artwork on the stage, and the artwork foregrounds the audience in the auditorium. When there is no biographical evidence of the artist backstage, we use that absence of biography to speculate and explore the artist's decision making in the artwork as a stand-in for the artist, and critically reflect on our speculations as authors and critics of those fictions.

Because psychoanalysis – the talking cure with no cure in sight – is interested in the stories behind other people's psychological ticks and tongues, a natural navel gazing takes place in the reading and writing of it. When reading art through a psychoanalytic reading there's a natural turning inward, especially when the artist and artwork being covered (not mutually exclusive in the psychoanalytic context) psychologically reflects either the traumas of the world or the traumas of the individual (also not mutually exclusive in the psychoanalytic context). 

The relationship between art & psychoanalysis is not without its problems, especially when it comes to the Freudian positioning of the female artist. But this problem makes the purpose of recontextualisation and refashioning, versus the outright dismissal of psychoanalysis, all the more urgent. As someone who has been engaged in this relationship for many years, my appreciation and the students' appreciation of modern art and the modern artist has been changed forever. In our contemporary culture of reactionary and polarising opinion psychoanalysis can help us to confront our cultural biases and personal blindspots to experience and critique art with everything we've got. And as Hal Foster states in Prosthetic Gods, the aim here is ‘to critique psychoanalysis even as I move to employ it’.