PsychArtCult at Morbid Anatomy Museum continues as a monthly online event!

Join us Sunday November 21st! Visit Morbid Anatomy to register.

The Face of Fear: Faces in Gothic Horror Films with Icy Sedgwick and “How Weird is That?” with Dr. Kasper Opstrup: Part of Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult, Live on Zoom 

Date: Sunday, November 21
Time: 2 pm EST
Part of the Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult series of events, curated by Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson

“The Face of Fear: Faces in Gothic Horror Films”, Presented by Icy Sedgwick

“We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!” So says Norma Desmond, played by Gloria Swanson, in the 1950 classic, Sunset Boulevard. Desmond’s issue with sound cinema is its privileging of the voice and language over the silent face and its myriad expressions. For an emotion-centered genre like horror, these expressions are crucial to conveying both the terror of the victim and the malice of the monster. Indeed, the face is the most individual feature of the body. It is our ability to recognise a face that makes it both terrifying and bewildering when the face is concealed.

In this talk, we’ll explore the face in horror and Gothic films. We’ll examine why it’s so powerful as a site of expression and investigate its importance to the Gothic as a means of storytelling. We’ll pay a visit to the monsters and get up close to the distorted face. And no discussion of faces would be complete without a celebration of the mask, used to prevent identification, hide deformity, and even as a form of punishment.

Icy Sedgwick is working on a PhD exploring the representation of the haunted house in contemporary Hollywood horror films. She runs the Fabulous Folklore podcast, investigating European folklore and its appearances in popular culture. In case she tires of the research, Icy also writes dark fantasy and Gothic horror fiction.

“How Weird is That?”,  Presented by Dr. Kasper Opstrup.

This talk will take a closer look at the tradition for weird fiction and the current revival of weird thought. Weird fiction has been called the genre of what could have been. From Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow to the writings of William Burroughs, weird fictions have taken the form of a type of infectious stories that ultimately want to rearrange reality. Like occult literature, they want to make something happen.

Often, these types of fictions take place in a space of psychological liminality and, through examples like, for example, Timothy Leary’s and Robert Anton Wilson’s SMI²LE project, we will look upon some of the world-building and utopian aspects of the weird as well. Through dreams, visions, and revelations, it is a genre that wants to combine science and religion into a new system that problematizes not only easy distinctions between symbolism and surrealism on the one hand and pulp, horror and sci-fi on the other. 

The weird also problematizes and erodes the borders between fiction and reality. This gives it a unique potential to speculate about our contemporary situation of climate catastrophe, mental health issues and so-called post-truth politics.

Dr. Kasper Opstrup is a Copenhagen-based writer and researcher. Currently, he is connected to the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid as a researcher while writing on a book about the 20th century’s myths of the future. His most recent publications are The Way Out (Minor Compositions, 2017) and the edited anthology Unexpected Encounters – Possible Futures (Antipyrine, 2019).  

The Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult series of events, curated by Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson, is dedicated to exploring the intersections and integration of psychoanalytic theory, the creative arts, occult practices, and folk magic traditions. By inviting psychoanalysts, philosophers, artists, writers, and occult practitioners from a variety of theoretical orientations and worldviews to discuss their work, personal experiences, and areas of research interest with one another, dialogue is opened up between practitioners in fields of study that traditionally rarely engage with one another though often operate in similar and complementary ways.

PsychArtCult Residency at Morbid Anatomy Museum, online, Sundays in September!

PsychArtCult Residency at Morbid Anatomy Museum, online, Sundays in September!

Sunday, September 5, 2021, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult: Artificial Intelligence and the Patipolitical Body with Dr. Isabel Millar, and Freud’s Explorations of the Occult with Dr. Vanessa Sinclair, Live on Zoom

Sunday, September 12, 2021, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult: Mary Wild on Taxidermy in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and Discussion with Anna Biller, Writer and Director of “The Love Witch” & “Viva”

Sunday, September 19, 2021, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult: The Two Antichrists with Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech of Scarlet Imprint, Live on Zoom

Sunday, September 26, 2021, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult: Blanche Barton on Death Imagery in Satanism and Carl Abrahamsson presents Memento Mori Forever, Live on Zoom

PsychArtCult strikes again

Deep inside the lush microclimate belly of Südtirol, Vanessa and I recently hosted our conference ”Re-writing the future: 100 years of esoteric modernism and psychoanalysis” (May 30-June 1, 2019).

It had been a staggering three years since the ”Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult” (a.k.a. #psychartcult) inception in London in 2016 but these years were certainly not idled away in vain. On the contrary, it seems the reason why it took so long was simply that we’ve been so busy!

But suddenly we were in the lovely town of Merano in northern Italy. Time to work! Time to eat delicious food! Time to talk and listen! Time to ”Psychartcult”! The first two days of the conference were held at Schloss Pienzenau, and the third day at Schloss Brunnenburg. I mean, why settle for only one castle when you can have two? Not only were these ambiences magical in their ultra-verdure settings and ultra-historical presence. Our speakers also brought ultra-intelligent thoughts and ideas to the intellectual-emotional table (please see the list below for a complete bouquet overview) that still resonate deeply inside us.

From beginning to end, everything was almost suspiciously problem-free. Both Vanessa and I are used to handling all kinds of trials and tribulations as they appear, but we had to succumb to a new kind of insight this time: that we are such pros nowadays, and we had planned it all so well that it was just a pure joy to be in the midst of it all. A smooth ride.

The three days of enthusiastic sharing of ideas, insights and concepts came to an end in the best possible way: by indulging in poetry. As mentioned, the final day was housed at the 13th century fairytale castle Schloss Brunnenburg, the home of Mary and Siegfried de Rachewiltz (Ezra Pound’s daughter and grandson). 95 year old Mary was with us all through the long day, and showed no signs of fatigue. Truly an iron lady. She had mentioned before we began that she was especially interested in listening to me talk about the symbiotic relationship between her father and his main publisher, New Directions boss James Laughlin. ”No pressure…”

When all had been said and done, it was poetry time. Katy Bohinc read/performed her powerful suite ”Trinity Star Trinity” (published by Scarlet Imprint), Vanessa read recent cut-ups, Mathias Lodmalm read just deceased Roky Erickson’s ”Bloody Hammer,” Carlos Abler recited a poem he had written in his teens, honoring Pound, and several others delivered material in an absolutely lovely way. Then, as the final impromptu pièce de résistance, Siegfried stepped up and read from Pound’s ”Cantos.” It definitely opened up some kind of psychic initiation portal. Everyone was focused on the spellbinding poem while also realizing that this intersection was not only temporal and spatial but also utterly magical. It felt like the future had already been re-written… In this case, by Ezra Pound, way back when… And we were there, in his space and time, to re-fuel and re-charge already existing incentives. I guess this is what’s usually called ”inspiration.”

Pound being invoked per poetic proxy by his grandson, in front of his daughter and an entire conference packed with people in awe of not only Pound but also of the collections of Poundeana present in this literally enchanting 13th century castle. It wasn’t so much a necromantic experience as it was a purely romantic one.

When all of this (unfortunately) was over, and everyone dispersed into consensus reality with a serene face communicating ”What the hell just happened?” Vanessa and I traveled on to Venice (or, as Swedes prefer to call it, ”the Stockholm of the south”) to relax with friends.

To complete the theme of the conference, we visited San Michele, the beautiful cemetery island just outside Venice. Not only are luminaries like Igor Stravinsky, Sergej Djagilev, and Joesph Brodsky resting here, but also Ezra Pound himself.

A small flat tombstone with his name is integrated in a lovely little plot which is basically just a trimmed bush. It’s a fitting esthetic: hidden away, discreet, esoteric, stark, stripped; there is nothing fancy or extravagant about it. The name is composed of letters that in themselves are the cornerstones of an (almost) indefinite number of poetic permutations. It’s overwhelming in its simplicity, and at the same time tremendously powerful.

After we had read and recorded some poetry for future cut-up/”spoken word” projects, I let my favorite pen rest for a while on Pound’s grave. Talismanic (re)charging is important. The pen was was very soon fully charged; as were we after this very special trip in the company of such amazing minds and spirits.

I can’t wait until it’s time for the next psychartcult symposium. Where will we go? Who will we meet?

Carl Abrahamsson, June 2019

P.S. Just like the London conference turned into The Fenris Wolf no 9, so the Merano conference will eventually be gathered in The Fenris Wolf no 11.


In the meantime, enjoy photos from the latest conference “Re-writing the Future: 1oo Years of Esoteric Modernism & Psychoanalysis” held at Castles Pienzenau & Brunnenburg, Südtirol, Italy, May 30 – June 1, 2019.