One-day symposium


23 April 10am-5pm

-> Program <-

-> Symposium live here! <-

The loops and links between art, dreams, magic and madness
have long fascinated and agitated the human species in equal measure.

This one-day symposium brings together leading voices from across the globe
in psychiatry, psychology, philosophy and art to discuss and analyse
the place of madness in society, the place of society in madness, and
implications for the future of humanity.

10:00    WELCOME: Richard Hallward

10:10     Keynote: Prof WJT Mitchell (Chicago), “Seeing Through


KEY NOTE: “Seeing Through Madness”



PANEL 1: Expectation and its disruption: The theory and practice of madness versus the treatment of madness, have we got this constructively right or destructively wrong?

11.00    Presenter: Dr Françoise Davoine (Paris), “The Theatre of Fouls”

11.20.   Panel Discussion


Prof. Sir Simon Wessely (London)

Prof. David Bates (San Francisco)

Dr Richard Bulmer (Guildford)

Richard Hallward (Warsaw)

Dr Françoise Davoine (Paris)

Dr Shruti Kapila (Cambridge)

Dr Catarina Pombo Nabais (Lisbon)

12.00    Audience Q&A

12:20    LUNCH


PANEL 2: Who’s the madman? The reality of madness inside the asylum, outside the asylum, and the path to extinction

13.40    Presenter: Angela Findlay (Stroud), “The sanity of the arts
within the madness of a prison”.


14.00   Panel Discussion

Chair: Johnny Acton (Stroud)

Dr Mario Caeiro (Obidos)

Angela Findlay (Stroud)

Erwin James (Wrexham)

Dr Wouter Kusters (Gouda)

Bianca O’Brien (Paris)

Ratnaboli Ray (Kolkata)

14:50    Audience Q&A

15.05     TEA BREAK


PANEL 3: The surreal versus the real: What common ground or tension is there between madness, dreams, magic and art, and why?

15.30    Presenter: Prof. Yehuda Safran (New York), “Laughter and Madness”.

15:50    Panel Discussion

Chair: Prof. Hubertus von Amelunxen (Berlin)

Carlos Amorales (Mexico City) (online)

Prof. Paul Ardenne (Amiens)

Prof. Raffaele Gavarro (Rome)

Prof. Dominik Lejman (Berlin/Poznan)

Prof. Yehuda Safran (New York)

Prof. Avital Ronell (New York) (online)

Prof. WJT Mitchell (Chicago) (online)

16.50 Audience Q&A


Krzysztof Leon Dziemaszkiewicz: Performative intervention
in the Kids Asylum

17.30    VERNISSAGE COCKTAIL  [red triangle] links to SYMPOSIUM info page L U N A T I C S

Sir Prof. Simon Wessely

is one of the most eminent psychiatrists in the world. A former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he is the UK’s first Regius Professor of Psychiatry - an appointment made directly by the Monarch – a chair he holds at King’s College, London. His main areas of research include unexplained symptoms and syndromes, military health, and the ways in which people react to adversity.

Prof. WJT Mitchell

is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. A scholar and theorist of media, visual art and literature, he is the editor of Critical Inquiry, an interdisciplinary journal devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. He is also the author of Mental Traveler: A Father, a Son, and a Journey through Schizophrenia, a moving and powerful account of his son Gabe’s quest to transform madness from a curse to a critical perspective.

Dr Richard Bulmer

has for 40 years been involved with leading developments in Physics and technology. During the early 1980s, he worked on a Nobel Prize winning project at CERN’s antiproton accumulator, before moving into the field of Semiconductors. In retirement, he has taught Physics to disadvantaged teenagers and is currently exploring neutrino oscillations in relation to dark matter. His scientific viewpoint will provide a fascinating counterpoint to the more conventionally ‘psychological’ perspective of many of our Madnicity panellists and take us down unexpected avenues relating to magic and magical thinking.

Dominik Lejman

has been described as a painter that works in the same manner as a magician does when daring us to see the invisible. One of the most important Polish contemporary artists working today. In recent years his socially-engaged concept of hybrid painting has been highly influential for the younger generation of artists. Winner of the 2018 Berlin Art Prize, he is an artist of wide repute and growing resonance on the international stage. With an established studio practice in Berlin he is also currently installed as a Professor of Painting at the University of Arts in Poznan, Poland.

Wouter Kusters

is a Dutch philosopher and linguist, best known for his books Pure Madness, A Quest for the Psychotic Experience and A Philosophy of Madness: The Experience of Psychotic Thinking. Having experienced two episodes of what is commonly known as ‘psychosis’, he is unusually well-qualified to explore and explain the phenomenon through the lenses of philosophy, spirituality and mysticism. His fundamental position is that philosophy and madness can both be understood as as different ways of searching for the answers to what he describes as “the most fundamental questions of existence.”

Françoise Davoine

is a French psychoanalyst with 30 years practice in public psychiatric hospitals. For many years, she and her late husband Jean Max Gaudillière held a weekly seminar at l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris entitled ‘Madness and the Social Link’. Francoise is the author of numerous articles and books, including History Beyond Trauma, Wittgenstein’s Folly and Mother Folly, which was adapted into Mieke Bal’s film A Long History of Madness. She brings to the table both an in-depth knowledge of the history of madness and an insider’s perspective on contemporary attitudes and practice.

David Bates

is Professor of Rhetoric and Director of the Center for New Media at UC Berkeley. His work has two main focuses: the history of legal and political ideas, and the relationship between technology, science, and the history of human cognition, with an emphasis on concepts of error and pathology. He is currently working on a new book entitled Human Insight: An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence, in which he explores the emergence of human thinking in terms of the entanglement of machine technologies, somatic processes, media practices, and social/political organisation.

Paul Ardenne

is Professor of history at the University of Amiens, and an art critic and curator. He grew up in a farming family in Charente and was himself a farmer for a period. After studying literature, history and philosophy at the Universities of Poitiers and Toulouse, he completed a doctorate in the history of art at the University of Paris. Since 1990, he has been a regular contributor to the prestigious French contemporary art review Art Press. His specific interests include art and politics, art and the body, and art and public space.

Yehuda Safran

is one of the world’s most thoughtful and intellectually wide-ranging critics of art and architecture. Having studied in London, he has gone on to teach at a global range of institutions, ranging from the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht to Nanjing University in China. The author of Mies Van Der Rohe (2000), he is also a prolific contributor to and editor of architectural journals, and has written that “…things that exist in our mind and nowhere else determine more profoundly what does exist for us than anything outside our mind.”

Aunty Lorraine Peeters

is a leader of the Stolen Generation of indigenous Australians. Like many Aboriginals of her generation, she was forcibly removed from her family as a child and placed in an institution, essentially to be ‘whiteified’. As an adult, she embarked on a healing journey necessitated by this traumatic severance from her roots. This ultimately led her to develop the Marumali model of healing (a Kamilaroi word meaning ‘to put back together’) to support other members of the Stolen Generation. In 2009, she was the New South Wales Recipient of the Senior Australian of the Year award, and in 2011 she was co-winner of the World Council for Psychotherapy Sigmund Freud Award.

Shaan Peeters

is Aunty Lorraine’s daughter, and a director/program co-facilitator at Marumali. She has worked in government, private and Aboriginal community controlled sectors in the areas of native title, education, policy development and social and emotional wellbeing. Shaan has been involved in the development and implementation of the Marumali Program since its inception in 2000. As a second generation member of the Stolen Generations, she has direct experience of the intergenerational trauma caused by the removal of children from their families and communities.

Catarina Pombo Nabais

is a Researcher at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Lisbon. After studying philosophy at the Universities of Lisbon and Amiens, she obtained her PhD in Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Paris. Her research interests include Contemporary Philosophy, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, Science and Art, Epistemology, Ethics and Ecosophy – the philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium. She focuses her work on concepts of Territory, Body, Ecosophy and Creation. She has also developed a parallel career as Art Curator.

Angela Findlay

is an Anglo-German artist, author and speaker. Originally trained as an artistic therapist, she taught art in prisons for many years. Her work explores, through a variety of mediums, the interchangeable nature of destructivity and creativity in our lives. She has a particular interest in the intergenerational relationships between war, trauma, crime, guilt and art. Her first book will be published in July 2022.

Shruti Kapila

is an Associate Professor of Indian History and Global Political Thought and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Born, educated and made in India, she has a long standing interest in the history of the modern subject or 'self' as understood through disciplines of the psyche and mind, notably psychoanalysis and psychiatry. She is currently training to become a psychoanalyst.

Hubertus von Amelunxen

is an internationally renowned philosopher, curator and theoretician of photography and the fine arts. He holds the Walter Benjamin Chair at the European Graduate School, specialising in Media Philosophy and Cultural Studies, and from 2013-18 was the school’s President and Provost. A member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, Von Amelunxen has written and contributed to several books on photography, media theory and poststructuralism, and he is the long-time editor of the leading photography journal Fotogeschicht. He has also curated numerous high-profile international exhibitions, among them Photography after Photography (1995-6).

Dominik Lejman

is one of the most important Polish artists active today. Based in Berlin, he has been described as working in the same manner as a magician, daring us to see the invisible. In recent years his socially-engaged concept of hybrid painting has been highly influential for the younger generation of artists. He connects painting with video projection, produces video murals, creates large-format photo wallpapers, and initiates projects in public space. His works have been widely exhibited internationally. Winner of the 2018 Berlin Art Prize, he is currently Professor of Painting at the University of Arts in Poznań.

Richard Hallward

has been engaged academically, personally and professionally with madness, creativity, ideology and society for more than 40 years. A diversity warrior and highly experienced event organiser, he has created and led numerous high profile transformative projects and enterprises across arts, culture, entertainment, government and business, among them Beyond Bedlam, which culminated in the publication of the first mainstream anthology of poems by survivors of mental illness. He is also the founder of CEEQA. the leading market insight platform and awards body for commercial real estate investment in Central, Eastern and South East Europe.

Mário Caeiro

is a lecturer, cultural programmer, curator and researcher. He has for many years been an independent cultural activist, focusing on the urban condition through lenses such as the concept of Nothing, the value of Light, and the emergent notion of Mythical Public Space. He is the author of Arte na Cidade – História Contemporânea (‘Art in the City – Contemporary History’, 2014) and has numerous curatorial credits, including Time-Space-Existence by Alessandro Lupi at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Mario teaches at ESAD (Portugal) and has been curating works by Dominik Lejman since 2010.

Johnny Acton

is a direct descendent of the great Victorian historian Lord Acton, best known for his dictum that ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. He has authored over 20 non-fiction books on a bewildering range of subjects. In his twenties, he worked in a therapeutic community run by a disciple of RD Laing, an experience which cemented a lifelong interest in mental health issues. He is currently working on a book about Maytree, a revolutionary London-based respite centre for the acutely suicidal.

Bianca O’Brien

is active in an astonishingly wide range of creative mediums and enterprises. She was, inter alia, the founder and curator of The Atelier in Paris, which provided a platform for talented artists and photographers overlooked by the ‘system’, and an editor/producer for Under the Influence magazine. She is an accomplished performance artist, who has worked at the Palais de Tokyo, and a photographer whose reportage about Detroit-based artists has been the subject of two exhibitions. Muse to numerous painters, designers and artists, Bianca is also a highly successful model, who has featured on 75 magazine covers, including Vogue.

Erwin James

became a writer while serving 20 years of a mandatory life sentence for murder. He has been a Guardian columnist and contributor since 1998 and is currently Editor-in-Chief of Inside Time, the UK’s only national newspaper for people in prison. Erwin is the author of three books: A Life Inside – A Prisoner’s Notebook, (Atlantic, 2003), The Home Stretch – From Prison to Parole, (Atlantic, 2005) and Redeemable – a Memoir of Darkness and Hope (Bloomsbury, Feb 2016). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Honorary Master of the Open University.

Ratnaboli Ray

is a trained clinical psychologist and mental health activist, and the founder of Anjali, a rights based organisation based in Kolkata, West Bengal, which works for people with mental health conditions and/or psychosocial disabilities. She is an Ashoka Fellow and has received the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism from Human Rights Watch. She has been recognised as a ‘powerful impact woman’ by Business Today, and a ‘Woman Hero’ by the Times Of India.

Raffaele Gavarro

is an art historian, critic and curator. He has curated numerous exhibitions in museums, public spaces and private galleries in Italy, and is the author of many texts on Italian and international artists. These include Oltre l’estetica (Meltemi Editore, 2007); L’arte senza l’arte – mutamenti nella realtà analogicodigitale (Maretti Editore, 2020); Avanti&Indietro - 16 conversazioni sull’arte nel tempo e nella realtà analogicodigitali (Maretti Editore, 2021). Raffaele is a professor of History and Theory of New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.

Avital Ronell

is the Jacques Derrida Chair and professor of philosophy at The European Graduate School. She is also University Professor of the Humanities and Professor of German, Comparative Literature, and English at New York University, where she co-directs the trauma and violence transdisciplinary studies program. Her work extends across the fields of literary studies, philosophy, feminist theory, technology and media, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, ethics and performance art. The author of more than a dozen books, Avital famously argues for “the necessity of the unintelligible”.

Carlos Amorales

is a multidisciplinary artist who explores the limits of language and translation systems. He uses graphic production as a tool for developing linguistic structures and alternative working models that allow new forms of inter­pretation. Born in 1970 in Mexico City, he studied at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. He has subsequently held solo exhibitions at institutions including the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and his work forms part of the collections at the likes of Tate Modern, MoMA and the Guggenheim. Amorales has represented two different nations at the Venice Biennale: Holland in 2003 and Mexico in 2017.

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