Investigating performativity as an ontological and psychoanalytic process within trans- disciplinary art practices. 



In 2014 Robert Mangion awarded a research grant from the School of Graduate Research at RMIT University to work at the Freud Museum in London in aid of his PhD research. He recieved his Doctrate with recognition of outstanding work from the School of Art and College of Design and Social Context,  RMIT University in 2016.


Dr Mangion developed a performative methodology drawn from trans-disciplinary and experimental pedagogic art practice. 
This led to the identification of relational, psychoanalytic and ontological dynamics within performative experience. This method of participatory and inter-subjective exchange serves to question single authorship and ‘self’ as a unified and preordained category. 

AFTER OBJECT/SUBJECT  (Now it is there – There it is now)  2016


In this research project, performativity is viewed as a constructivist practice. In the final exhibition outcomes  the gallery space becomes a site for a work that situates the viewer as key participant through movement, duration and unfoldment. The work is a diverse arrangement of parts that experiments with the viewing environment as a chain of events. Performativity has been used as a methodology  that includes, modes of encounter, relational and psychoanalytic engagement, collaboration, discursive exchange and temporal processes. Inter-subjective exchange serves to question single authorship and ‘self’ as a unified and preordained category. It is the assertion of this project that practice-led research, within performative modes of practice, need to enable the multi-variant voice emanating from participatory exchange. This enablement may then open to a more comprehensive articulation of a performative research culture.The exhibition draws extensively from the artist’s work at the Freud Museum, London.

INSTRUCTION/ENACTMENT (or what little Hans did next)  and FLOOR PLAN 2016

Suit of eight digital prints, each framed at (21 x 16 cm)

Adhesive tap. Dimensions variable.


This project examines psychological transference between subject and object, in a series of miniature performance and video works, drawing on filmed/photographic imagery taken of the Freud Museum.  Asking, how can the visitor's reading of the “memorial” be disrupted by a metaphoric act of trespass or by intervention, in the form of adding content (sculptural object, performance, photography, text) or by the metaphoric displacement of treasured object’s from one context (the collection) into another (the exhibition). The artwork evokes cultural and psychic points of slippage and points to the gaps that punctuate its museological format. The organising principle for the installation is a metaphoric “split”, of the floor plan of Freud’s house in Maresfield Gardens in London. This is established through contrasts inherent within the displacement formed in the house as museum and analytical laboratory as modernist theatre and analyst transferals and analysande reciprocations; subject and object;  words and affect; consciousness and unconsciousness.

CAST OF ABSCENCE (Black Noise) 2016

Mixed-media installation includes acrylic paint on canvas, glass, fabric, sound,text and video. Dimensions variable.


The theme of entrapment within circumstance is pursued throughout Cast of Abscence (Black Noise). The work seeks to express forms of abstraction in the shape of pre-conscious expression, evoking an intrinsic absence at the core of subjectivity. The work produced in Cast of Abscence (Black Noise), explores  exchange, through dialogical performance and composite art installation. Black Noise is a fourteen-minute  video installation, depicting an interior of a large darkened room (the basment of Freuds house) with undefined dimensions. It depicts a dialogical exchange between two participants. The voices are transferred equally in a process of disembodied abstraction.The work acts in the tension between presence and the void. It assumes a double ontological existence insofar as it is a presentation of material and immaterial components. The work situates the psychological and formal properties of the void. The art object in this work is contingent and essentially unstable. It moves back and forth between absence and presence.

TAP (Proof). 2016

Mixed-media installation includes MDF, glass, wood, painted panels, text, digital print and video. Dimensions variable.

​Various art and media fragments are produced for Tap (Proof) such as text, painting, photography,objects, sound elements and a twelve-minute video work (depicting  tapping gestures across the exterior of Freud's house in London). Combined they form  elements, which construct a non-hierarchical visual field, with the artwork presented not as isolated autonomouse entities, but rather within a syntax of inter-visual display. There is less interest in the individuality of each component, rather in what happens when different elements interweave and overlay one another. In the process the individual elements bestow significance on one another through a sequence of disclosure as a performative event.  All the elements interconnect and enact a revealing process. The individual elements are analogically linked as a sequence of signs that act as vehicles of perceptual interpretation. They solidify themselves in perception and form what might be called semblances of events passing between mnemic trace and return. The viewer’s movement  constitutes the experience of the artwork as a perceptual event, which is simultaneously experienced as passing and reiterated.


Möbius. 2010 -16

Mixed-media installation includes digital prints, text and wall painting. Dimensions variable.​


Elements that constitute this work include a rectangular wall painting, text and eleven digital prints, which depict three occurrences bound by seemingly unrelated sequence off events. An unpredictable connection formed through contingence, equivalence and serendipity. Events are bound, even though they remain parts of otherwise unrelated chains of events

In this project the artwork draws attention toward something that is both present and returned.  Media becomes a springboard for ideas that side step from one semblance to the next. Things proliferate in time and continually take on new meanings.


The viewer’s presence in relation to the artwork within the gallery space, translates as a form of staged occurrence where the viewer/participant is positioned as the subject of the unfoldment and enactment of the artwork. To borrow from Michael Fried the project posits the idea of “presentness”, which defines the condition of participation in ways similar with the idea of gestalt. This is characterised by a form of “instantaneousness” in which “at every moment the work itself is wholly manifest.”

THERE BY CHANCE (Maresfield Gardens NW3)


Mixed-media installation includes digital prints, objects, fabric, wood, text, and video and mixed-media box assemblages. Dimensions variable.

"There by Chance" and "Returned Fragile Vienna"  is a mixed-media installation which includes a set of six archival box's, digital prints, objects, fabric, wood, text, and video. Dimensions are variable. These desparet  elements combine  calling  on models of causality, duration and narrative structure, drawn from the psychoanalytic notion of “deferred action”.  Revisiting the past through “deferred action” works to locate the displacement of an initial failure, which must be continually worked through in order to disrupt, but not necessarily fully resolve its affect. Aesthetic development  takes the place of  psychoanalytical process, artistic process  remodelled as psychoanalytic case study. This raises questions about who or what is to substitute for the position of the “analyst” and “analysand” in the enactment of the artwork: is it the artist, the participant, the viewer or some combination based on the relay between them all? The innate porosity within this confluence suggests a loss of boundaries, whereby the distinction between viewing subject  and external object is blurred.