The Silberger Paper Prize Award Program
Artist Robert Smithson’s Manifestations of the Replacement Child Experience
May 11, 2021
7:30 – 9:00 pm via ZOOM
Presented by the 2020 Award Recipient
Suzaan Boettger, PhD
Responding to innovative environmental sculptor Robert Smithson’s covert evocations of his experience as having been conceived following the death of his parents’ prior only child, Suzaan Boettger will illuminate his art from psychoanalytic perspectives on the “replacement child.” Smithson’s works of art and writing made as an adult suggest that his sibling’s relatively older age (for these situations) of nine-and-a-half at his death, coupled with his illness’s ghastly degradation, scarred his family. Smithson’s obsession with the theme indicates that the process of resolution passed to their second only-child, himself, while his resistance to his family role as surrogate propelled a desire to replace that identity with that of an Original. He was successful, becoming a major presence in the art world of the later 1960s whose influence continues decades after his death at 35 in 1973. Smithson is renowned for his magisterial earthwork The Spiral Jetty in The Great Salt Lake. Dr. Boettger will focus on his early career expressionist paintings, which after transmuting himself into a cerebral sculptor, he suppressed.
Suzaan Boettger, PhD is an art historian, critic, and lecturer based in New York City and Professor Emerita of the History of Art at Bergen Community College. Her books include Earthworks: Art and the Landscape of the Sixties (University of California Press, 2003) acclaimed by the New York Times Book Review as the “definitive history.” This material is drawn from several years’ research for her book in process The Passions of Robert Smithson, Art and Life. For a preview about Smithson, see her brief illustrated essay commissioned by the Holt/Smithson Foundation, “Haunted: Robert Smithson’s My House is a Decayed House, 1962” or on Instagram at #UnknownSmithson.
Jane Hanenberg, EdD is a psychologist, Training and Supervising Analyst at BPSI and a lecturer, part-time at Harvard Medical School. She is Associate Editor of American Imago. Her career and teaching have been focused on the developmental aspects of psychoanalysis, including symbolic development in childhood, dreams, the creative process and the changing cultures of childhood. She has a private practice in Watertown, MA, and is a painter.
Murray M. Schwartz, PhD is Coordinator of BPSI’s Center for Multi-Disciplinary Psychoanalytic Studies (COMPASS) and editor of American Imago. For over fifty years, Murray Schwartz has taught Shakespeare, psychoanalysis and Holocaust literature. His interdisciplinary writing includes essays on Shakespeare’s last plays, the work of Erik Erikson, applied psychoanalysis, modern poetry and trauma studies. He co-edited Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays (1980), and Memory and Desire: Aging–Literature–Psychoanalysis (1985).
Each year the Silberger Paper Prize Award is granted to the author of an outstanding paper reflecting an interdisciplinary consideration of psychoanalytic theories or concepts. The award committee welcomes submissions from neighboring fields, including developmental psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, historical studies, arts and humanities.