ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY OPENING TO THE CHANGING WORLD Buenos Aires, Argentina, from August 28 to September 2, 2022.

Ancient works of art were created for the purpose of sacred rites; ritual gave them their unique meaning and importance. A ritual art work’s authentic qualities were its tangible presence, its physical inaccessibility and its connection to faith and tradition. Such works of art did not have an identified creator or audience. Ancient man saw the world of phenomena as an expression of transcendental and transpersonal sanctity. The world was experienced as unus mundus (a unitary world), which is, by essence, preverbal. This created profound challenges for artists.

The development of modern Western culture introduced a rupture between consciousness and the primal world. A distinction appeared between man and nature, reality and imagination, the internal and the external, and – more than ever – between man and the work of art. The Hero’s Journey, encouraging rational thinking and the development of consciousness, attained wondrous peaks. The arrival of photography and cinematography, the breakthroughs of technological development, the Internet, online communication … all heralded a new era. In this new era, as Walter Benjamin argued, reproduction technology – which implies mass production – represents the collapse of the metaphysical assumption about the existence of a single unique and authentic artistic entity. It removes the reproduced object from the realm of cult and tradition, and transforms it into the viewer’s contemporary; it cancels the link between the work of art and the archetypal world.

Many psychologists have studied and analyzed works of art in an attempt to understand their relation to psychic life. Erich Neumann drew a parallel between three axes of development: the development of culture from matriarchate to patriarchate; man’s development from birth to adulthood; and the development of the psyche from unconscious to conscious.

In this talk, I will adopt Neumann’s threefold perspective to discuss the implications of the single canonical artwork’s extinction in view of the omnipresence of countless reproductions and variations that are accessible to all. Juxtaposing originals, copies and variations, the talk will explore how these different works still maintain a link and, in some instances, allow for new perspectives and insights. Addressing clinical, social and cultural contexts, the talk will conclude by re-examining the use of art today in Jungian therapy.

In my view, in our modern times, humans eagerly seek contact with the unity experience. The reproductions and re-interpretations of contemporary art are easily accessible and encourage such contact. I believe that Jung himself, well known for his openness, would see in the mass production and mass transformation of images today a new vitality, a new resurgence of sacred, preverbal ritual, and even a glimpse of the unus mundus.

This talk will be accompanied by artwork samples and clinical vignettes.