A Festival That Revels in the Existential; Lorne Jackson Looks at an Event That Promises to Get Birmingham on the Psychiatrist's Couch

The Birmingham Post (England), March 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Festival That Revels in the Existential; Lorne Jackson Looks at an Event That Promises to Get Birmingham on the Psychiatrist's Couch


sychoanalysis has become a boom industry since the time of Sigmund Freud.

PIt's got to the point where there are probably more psychiatrists than psychos - one million mind-menders for every Norman Bates.

Unbaffling the human brain has proved to be especially popular in America, with New York the unofficial capital of the sport. In the Big Apple, you won't find loose change in the crevices of a psychiatrist's couch. It's Woody Allen wedged beneath the cushions.

Even tough guys don't shrink away from a shrink. Tony Soprano - the mobbed-up mook from gangster drama The Sopranos - always ends up bleating to his psychiatrist after ordering the death of yet another rival thug.

Back in the UK, we've dodged the worst effects of the psychobabble rabble. When the going gets grouchy, we still prefer to rely on our stiff upper lips.

Though in Birmingham, that may be about to change...

The entire city is to be dumped on the psychiatrist's couch, courtesy of the Fierce Festival. There are plenty of exciting events at this month's arts celebration, which returns to the city for the first time in two years.

But the most intriguing work involves the attempt to rummage around in the collective Brummie brain.

Laura McDermott, one of two new artistic directors now guiding Fierce, explains: "There's this amazing architectural collective, based in France, called EXYZT, which is pronounced 'exist'.

"They make temporary use of abandoned land, and there's loads of spaces in Birmingham awaiting redevelopment.

"So as soon as we became involved with Fierce, we thought Birmingham is a city EXYZT would love to get their hands on, so let's get them up here to check out a few sights.

"Over time they got to know the psychology of the city, and they had this playful conceit that they had diagnosed a lack of self-esteem in Birmingham, and had also perceived a multiple personality disorder.

"EXYZT have got this guy who they've worked with in the past, and he's called the Urban Psychoanalyst.

"He basically psychoanalyses cities as if they were people.

"So EXYZT are going to rename Birmingham, to address the lack of self esteem, and the city's splitpersonality issues."

It all sounds rather drastic. Is there a danger the entire city might end up being sectioned? "I guess we're going to have to see what happens," McDermott laughs.

"It's up to everyone in Birmingham to come out and make sure it's a fair diagnosis. Basically there will be a series of meetings and conversations with as big a group as possible of people who live and work in Birmingham, to figure out the inner psyche of the city."

It promises to be intriguing, and as wacky as a Robin Williams monologue.

There is method in such madcap madness. EXYZT will set up camp at the abandoned Eastside Green space, near Curzon Street Station. A camp that promises to be spectacular, since EXYZT all have a background in architecture.

The on site intervention will include constructing giant Hollywood-style letters, and offering the public a slap-up feast.

"EXYZT work with an amazing chef who will be providing the food," says McDermott.

So, food and far out constructions will attract the masses. Then, once they arrive, they'll be questioned, as part of the psychoanalysis of the city. The project is punningly called Burning Ham. "The title has several meanings," says McDermott. "Ham is the root of 'home' and 'hamlet'. And this art work is very much about what kind of home Birmingham is.

"But ham will also be there, in the meaty sense of the word - this is not a vegetarian project. That means a big BBQ feast on site. EXYZT are very interested in how food is a real marker of different cultures. So they will be providing a meaty multicultural BBQ!" It's not only meat that will be tucked into at this year's Fierce.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Festival That Revels in the Existential; Lorne Jackson Looks at an Event That Promises to Get Birmingham on the Psychiatrist's Couch
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.