Louise Bourgeois. Arch of Hysteria. 1993
Jerry Gorovoy: I’m Jerry Gorovoy. This hanging bronze figure is called the Arch of Hysteria.
Louise had actually been in psychoanalysis from 1951 all the way up until the 1980s. At the beginning of psychoanalysis with Freud there was a lot of interest in the hysterical woman who would have these contortions where the body would arch up in the air. Men did it too. But Louise always thought the psychoanalysts liked to see the women.
I mean they couldn’t figure out because there was no physical reason for this kind of bodily reaction. They thought it had to be some sort of mental trauma, whether it was repressed memories or connected to psycho-sexual repression. Louise's work is to a certain degree the same thing. It’s psychological and emotional things manifesting in the body that she then transforms into sculpture.
The hanging arch figure is actually a cast of my body. Louise had me lie down on a curved mound to get this shape, and then the body was in a plaster mold, which she then cut up to make this curve.
To Louise the state of hanging was this idea of fragility, because it meant that the body could turn, it could pivot, it could spin, so it wasn't a stable kind of thing. Louise wanted this figure to have a high polish so that the viewer’s face is caught inside the body of this contorted figure. So it brings the viewer into the picture.