Shredded Schreber, 1999

49 colour photographs, 11 × 14 inches each

This work is made up of 48 colour photographs of each page torn out of case study by Sigmund Freud, The Schreber Case (An analysis of an extreme instance of paranoid dementia).   I ripped out/up and crumpled each page as a way to represent the decomposition of subjectivity on the part of Schreber.

On a number of occasions, Freud used photography as a metaphor for explaining the unconscious. Photography is used in Shredded Schreber as a metaphor for the development of the psychosis within Schreber himself. A judge in Germany at the close of the 19th century, Schreber suffered a series of nervous breakdowns throughout his career and, upon his elevation to the status of supreme judge, developed a severe case of paranoia, rife with delusions. He came to believe that his internal organs were decomposing, that he was being transformed into a woman so that God could penetrate him with his divine rays (like photography) so that he could repopulate the earth (reproduction), all humans having been annihilated during the Apocalypse except for him. The list of delusions goes on and on. Some have theorized that Freud was unconsciously working through his own homosexual proclivities through analyzing the part that homosexuality played in Schreber's own psyche. The fact that Freud did not actually treat Schreber himself, 'treating' his written biography exclusively, only serves to underscore the central position that language occupies within psychoanalytic theory.

Later, I took each of the pages, uncrumpled and repaired them, and remade the case study into a book with letterpress cover (see Repaired Schreber under Bookworks). The two processes that make up the piece (destruction/photography and repair/book) represent the psychoanalytic processes of transference and cure.