Published in the journal Psychoanalytic Psychology Abstract: Hans Loewald’s understanding of sublimation differs radically from Freud’s use of this term. Whereas Freud saw sublimation as a change of aim, elevating drive-based desire to a higher level of art, for Loewald, sublimation is a process of linking two experiences of reality. I suggest that Loewald’s sublimation combines ideas from his two teachers—Martin Heidegger and Sigmund Freud. Using Heidegger’s terms building and dwelling, I argue that architecture is always a sublimatory product, combining a rational, functional reality of building with a phenomenological experience of inhabiting space and dwelling. I described how this concept of sublimation... Read More

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Originally published on Archinect EXCITE "Rem Koolhaas, chief curator of the 2014 Venice Biennale, managed to excite us, again forcing us to rethink the Elements and Fundamentals of architecture. For me, this is the first time I felt a real desire to visit the show, which I have always imagined to be more like an amusement park for new design. INSIGHT "So why am I, along with many others, intrigued by this year's event?  One may agree with Peter Eisenmanthat architecture is a language, while Koolhaas's exhibition presents only words, neglecting the grammar of a cultural discourse; or perhaps Libeskind's words resonate with us, calling for a... Read More

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Esther Sperber participated in University of Massachusetts Amherst's lecture series in the spring of 2014. She spoke about Studio ST's work over the past 10 years, focusing on the design and collaboration process of the firm's work. Read More

Esther Sperber spoke at The New School Philosophy Department's Hans W. Loewald Conference in February 2014. Lecture: "Sublimation - Building or Dwelling? Freud, Loewald and Architecture"Respondent: Eli Zaretsky Read the published paper Read More

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Abstract: Coming from the field of architecture, Sperber explores the processes in which buildings expand the range of human experiences. Using the nineteenth century term empathy from philosophy of art as well as current psychoanalytic notions of mentalization and the relational understanding of trauma, she contends that the building can reconnect the inhabitant to affects that have been avoided, split off or dissociated by trauma or non-reflective parenting. She further articulates the difference between architecture and the Winnicottian transitional object. While the transitional object garners its power through the child’s projection of affect to compensate for the unavailable mother, buildings... Read More

Originally Published: Lilith Magazine "After months of architectural design, bidding, negotiations and city approvals, we finally entered the site for our first weekly construction meeting. The general contractor had started the demolition, and I was excited to see the bare space, its walls and other distractions removed, and to imagine the place as we’d designed it. Richard and I entered the apartment for the meeting. Raymond, our general contractor, was late, but the new site manager was waiting for us. When he noticed us, he walked over to Richard, a graying man of around 60, shook his hand and introduced... Read More

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Published Chapter in “The Ethical Turn: Otherness and Subjectivity in Contemporary Psychoanalysis”. Routledge Relational Series. "Sylvia Lavin writes in her book "Kissing Architecture":"A kiss is the coming together of two similar but not identical surfaces, surfaces that soften, flex, and deform when in contact, a performance of temporary singularities." (Lavin, 2011) "I get a bit excited when reading Lavin's phenomenology of kissing. Not only because kissing is arousing, but, also, because Lavin employs kissing to suggest a way for two disciplines to interact...I am excited to envision a place in which psychoanalysis and its acceptance of the disorganized human mind can... Read More

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Esther Sperber presented at the Psychology and the Other Conference at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA "It is one of the most basic paradoxes of psychoanalysis that in order for a person – the patient - to discover and experience him/her self, they engage in a relationship with another person –the therapist. We become our own selves within a relational matrix of mothering, mirroring and mentalizing Others. "Over the last years I designed a number of synagogues and I am fascinated by the physical and spatial design as well and the personal, phenomenological experience of communal prayer. "I see communal... Read More

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Event website Esther Sperber spoke at Yale School of Medicine's Muriel Gardiner Program in Psychoanalysis and the Humanities in April 2013. About the lecture: Psychoanalysis has been interested in the creative process, yet architecture has only rarely been studied from a psychoanalytic perspective. This paper examines the architectural creative process in which the space between an existing problem and a physical, occupyable building is bridged. I follow the story of Daedalus, the mythic first architect, suggesting that the architect’s creativity depends on the ability to utilize multiple modalities of the human mind and body, allowing them to converse with one... Read More

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Esther Sperber presented her paper, The Wings of Daedalus: Toward a Relational Architecture, at the 2012 spring meeting of Santa Fe's Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association. Read More