Divan : Free Floating Attention Piece

Freud Museum, London, U.K. 2010

In 2010, Santiago Borja worked in the London apartment of Sigmund Freud, where the father of psychoanalysis, after fleeing Nazism in 1938, spent the remainder of his life. During the exhibition, the artist covered the Persian carpet of the famous sofa with fabric and cushions woven by Wixariki women. This indigenous Mexican community (also called Huichol) is known to have resisted Catholic evangelism; its cosmogony is fixed through a woven tradition, according to a method based on ‘mental maps’, where geometric and colored patterns are modeled on the images of dreams and visions induced by trance, through the ritual use of peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus. 

Through this symbolic gesture, the artist discussed the universality of Freudian analysis grids – sometimes called eurocentrism – to highlight other imaginaries and systems of representation. This is not a question of confronting cultures but rather of establishing new relationships between them. The divan, a monument of ‘Western thought’, is thus metaphorically treated like a palimpsest, rich in the multiple layers of texts which constitute it.