Occupying the museum: Denkmal 53 at Tate Modern




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Atelier Jan De Cock


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



One of two major essays in the two volume catalogue of the recent work of the Belgian artist Jan de Cock. It makes a study of the large installations at Tate Modern, summer 2005 using the Freudian concept of object-cathexis in order to analyse the work’s libidinous and aggressive attachment to the museum as an institution and as a specific set of spaces. It compares de Cock’s strategies to those of Donald Judd and Marcel Broodthers. This essay is significant for showing how the concept of cathexis can be widely applied across architecture and sculpture. It is original in the sense that it is the only existing analysis of de Cock’s work to use a psychoanalytic methodology. It is executed with rigour in that the essay stems from discussions between the author and the artist that were modelled on clinical psychoanalytic practice. There is also a high degree of originality through input from the author and the artist, particularly in the way in which the text is located throughout the book as an ‘unconscious text’, that appears in all the other texts on de Cock’s work, and then wraps around the cover of the book to name it, before returning to the status of subtext (thus the 127 pages). The book is a unique and highly creative encounter between author and artists that initiates new forms of expression and dialogue to graphically and temporally capture the ‘pulsation of the unconscious’ (Lacan, Four Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis). This process opens up the text to visual and spatial displacements that act as homologues to the functioning of the conscious and unconscious ambitions of the artist. Winner of the Plantin Moretus Prize in the category of ‘Best Art Book’, 2007.


RAE 2008, UoA 63 Art and Design


Martin, T.D. (2006) Occupying the Museum: Denkmal 53 at Tate Modern. In: Davidts, W. eds. Jan De Cock: Denkmal. Brussels: Atelier Jan De Cock


Research Institute