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Science Museum: Psychoanalysis - The Unconscious in Everyday Life

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Noble and Webb

For anyone who hasn’t been to see the “Psychoanalysis - The Unconscious in Everyday Life” exhibition at the Science Museum yet, this is a reminder that you only have a few weeks left to do so, so get going!

For a museum to present an exhibition on psychoanalysis is difficult, as the practice of psychoanalysis itself makes use of few physical objects, many of which are presented here. Claudia Guderian shows us the psychoanalysis couch used by patients, in a series of photographs from around Europe. There is also a collection of toys used by London child psychotherapist Margaret Lowenfeld in the 1920s for play therapy, as well as those used by contemporary child analyst Betty Joseph.

However, this exhibition, curated by Dr Caterina Albano from University of the Arts, London, aims to link psychoanalytic ideas with objects from the Science Museum as well as with contemporary art. It explores how psychoanalysis has been used to interpret human behaviour and the unconscious through both historical and modern artefacts and as it is portrayed in literature and the arts. The exhibition includes several commissioned art installations - most notably, a ‘body cast’ by artists Noble and Webster, which according to its display label is meant to represent the shadow of the self, born out of concealed desires - as well as items from the Science Museum’s stores.

The exhibition also explores how everyday objects can become endowed with unconscious projections, as well as the Freudian concept of the ‘uncanny’, with several commissioned installations exploring how technology may destabilise our perceptions of reality in contemporary society.

The exhibition is fun and interactive and you are expected to engage deeply with the exhibits. The labels in the exhibition are short and easy to read, and there are interactive, screen-based interpretations at the end which allow you to follow up and some of the issues explored.