Laura Gonzalez: Hosting the first person

I am an intimate durational performance maker. This means that I perform to a restricted number of audience members – often only one in turn – and time itself is a material of the encounter. My works are are based on Sigmund Freud’s written case histories of hysterical patients. In order to translate the work from text into performance, I created a method I call gHosting, in which I host the ghost of the patient in my own body. First, I read Freud’s writing with attention, carefully. On my second re-read, I re- write by hand the words I hear from the patient in the first person, erasing the voice of the doctor. I then record a reading of this new case history in my own voice and, instead of rehearsing the performance, I play it back to myself repeatedly, over several weeks. When I perform, I remember, rather than recite, what I hear, in the way the patients might have remembered occurrences or incidents when they told them to Freud. Thus, every one-to-one performance is different, an encounter created with the specific audience member in the room.

My translation from case history to performance omits the doctor’s voice, and switches the patient’s words from third to first person – a powerful act of disguised writing. For this performative lecture, I will create a ficto-critical text, using poetic and / mimetic strategies to stage theoretical questions, through merging the voices of classic hysteric patients with the writing of psychoanalysis and my own experience of performing the work. Ficto-criticism is a form of resistance, as well as a way to make and to critique. This work will raise questions about the historical and contemporary medicalisation of hysteria and the role of the hysteric in resistance and revolt.


Laura González’s work falls between medical humanities, psychoanalysis, performance and Eastern thought, and investigates knowledge production and the body of the hysteric. She has published books on madness, seduction, intersemiotic translation and performance and is currently writing one on hysteria using a folding method with her collaborator Eleanor Bowen. She is also translating Freud’s case histories into intimate works and exploring the dramaturgical potential of a breath practice.