Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences Experts

Bracha Ettinger

Psychoanalysis and Art
European Graduate School


Bracha L. Ettinger (b. 1948) is an artist, senior clinical psychologist, practicing psychoanalyst, and theoretician working at the intersection of female sexuality, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics. Her approach significantly extends the work of contemporary philosophers and psychoanalysts such as Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Jacques Lacan, and challenges the works of Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray.   Ettinger received her PhD in Aesthetics of Visual Arts from the University of Paris VIII, a DEA in Psychoanalysis from the University of Paris VII, and an MA in Clinical Psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She was a Visiting Professor and then a Research Professor in Psychoanalysis and Aesthetics at the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. Since 2001, she has also been a Visiting Professor in Psychoanalysis and Aesthetics at the AHRC Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory, and History (now CentreCATH) at the University of Leeds, of which she was a founding member. In addition, she has worked as a lecturer at the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. A collection of Bracha Ettinger's essays, interspersed with reproductions of her artwork, was published under the title, The Matrixial Borderspace (French 1999, English 2006).   For the past twenty years, Bracha Ettinger has been forging a new–"matrixial"–theory and language that has major aesthetical, analytic, ethical, and political implications. Theoretically exploring the possibility of shared affect and emergent expression across thresholds of identity and memory, Ettinger moves "through Lacan’s late works, the anti-Oedipal perspectives of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as object-relations theory to critique the phallocentrism of mainstream Lacanian theory and to rethink the masculine-feminine opposition. She replaces the phallic structure with a dimension of emergence, where objects, images, and meanings are glimpsed in their incipiency, before they are differentiated. This is the matrixial realm, a shareable, psychic dimension that underlies the individual unconscious and experience."   Her ideas have articulated a feminine, maternal, and prematernal dimension of the real (the womb), which is that of a presubject, and hence a trans-subjective coemergence avails through pregnancy (m/Other) in the emerging subject as the primary phase of the psyche. Following, the I and the non I are imminently trans-connected. Questioning the necessity of Kristeva's sacrificial social contract, Ettinger offers the possibility for identities to be achieved neither sacrificially nor at an other's expense. She urges one to think the opening of a new ethical horizon via "matrixial" concepts such as trans-subjective com-passion, primary compassion, and fascinance, in which an archaic "aesthetic" mental-psychic apprehension of the other, and of the world as proto-ethical, emerges.   Bracha Ettinger's artworks, mainly paintings, drawings, artist's notebooks, and photographs, have been presented in group exhibitions at major museums of contemporary art, including: The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Gothenburg Museum of Art; Villa Medici, Rome; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Haifa Museum and Theater; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Museum for Israeli Art, Ramat-Gan; Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She has held solo exhibitions at numerous institutions, including: Lokaal 01, Antwerp; Gerwood Gallery, Oxford University; La librairie, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; Maison de France, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; The Drawing Center, New York; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Pori Art Museum, Finland (with Sergei 'Africa' Bugayev); Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, Leeds; Kanaal Art Fondation, Béguinage, Kortrijk (with Nancy Spero); Modern Art Oxford; Galerie d'Art Contemporain du Centre Saint-Vincent, Herblay; the Russian Ethnography Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; Nouveau Muséem, IAC - Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne; Goethe Institute, Paris (1990); Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle de Calais; Moltkerei Werkstatt, Köln; Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Research Interest

Psychoanalysis and Art

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