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Symposia & Lectures
03 May 2024

Institutional Psychotherapy: Legacy and Constellations of Francesc Tosquelles

Situated at the intersection of art and psychiatry, the exhibition Francesc Tosquelles: Avant-Garde Psychiatry and the Birth of Art Brut explores for the first time in the United States the legacy of Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles. After fleeing the Nationalist government of Franco amidst the Spanish Civil War, Tosquelles arrived in 1940 at the Saint-Alban psychiatric hospital in Southern France, where he devised a series of revolutionary psychiatric practices.

Developed in conjunction with this four-venue international exhibition, the symposium “Institutional Psychotherapy: The Legacy and Constellations of Francesc Tosquelles”  will draw from the themes and contributions featured in the multi-author English accompanying publication (edited by AFAM’s exhibition co-curators Carles Guerra, Joana Masó, Valérie Rousseau and Edward Dioguardi), as well as by Joana Masó’s English anthology on Tosquelles. 

Conceived as an interdisciplinary dialogue, this online symposium will chart the history of the Saint-Alban “asylum-village,” while studying past and present significance of “institutional psychotherapy”. Akin to Tosquelles’ methodologies and epistemologies, the symposium will not offer a doctrinal survey about pioneering psychiatry and occupational therapy. Instead, the presentations will guide us through experiences, artworks and archival materials to reexamine mental health history and reconsider it in a larger political, social, and cultural context. 

Aside from the exhibition co-curators, Joana Masó, Carles Guerra, Valérie Rousseau, and Edward Dioguardi, this symposium will gather speakers from Europe and the United States–scholars and professionals from the fields of French studies, law & social sciences, psychiatry and medical history, Western art and media studies, including Liat Ben-Moshe, Kaira M. Cabañas, Amanda Cachia, Eric Fassin, Fountain House, Lewis Gordon, The Greene Clinic, Jean Khalfa, Raphael Koenig, W.J.T. Mitchell, Allison Morehead, Suzanne Hudson, Camille Robcis, Bárbara Rodriguez Muñoz, Martin Summers, Emily Watlington, Robert Young and Hannah Zeavin.

The first day of the symposium will examine the ways in which Tosquelles’s psychiatric, political, and cultural initiatives contribute to the reflection about mental health care and the search for disability justice. A second part will put in perspective the artistic and intellectual life at the Saint-Alban psychiatric hospital and the legacy of Tosquelles’s institutional psychotherapy in the arts and humanities. Closing remarks by W.J.T. Mitchell and Hannah Zeavin will address mental illness from a critical perspective.  

Curated by Mathilde Walker-Billaud, AFAM Curator of Programs and Engagement


This virtual program is free for all to attend. It will be recorded and shared on our website, Vimeo and YouTube pages.

All sessions feature closed captioning in English, and live ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation.

For specific accommodation questions or needs, please contact us at least five days prior to the program at


Day 1 – Thursday May 2nd

11:00 am – 5.30 pm EDT

Institutional Psychotherapy: An Intertwined History of Psychiatry and Politics

11:00 – 12:30 pm EDT


Unearthing Tosquelles: The Research that Brought up a Figure Semi Buried in History

With Tosquelles exhibition co-curators Joana Masó & Carles Guerra

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT


Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole Psychiatric Hospital: A Laboratory of Political Resistance?

With Camille Robcis, Eric Fassin, Jean Khalfa & Robert Young

Introduced and moderated by Lewis Gordon

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm EDT


From Disalienating to Decarcerating Mental Illness in the United States

With Martin Summers, the Greene Clinic & Fountain House and Liat Ben-Moshe

Introduced and moderated by Edward Dioguardi

DAY 2: Friday May 3rd

11:00 am – 5.30 pm EDT

Institutional Psychotherapy: An Intertwined History of Psychiatry and Culture

11:00 am -1:00 pm EDT


Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole Psychiatric Hospital: A Laboratory for the Arts?

With Raphael Koenig, Valérie Rousseau & Kaira M. Cabañas

Introduced and moderated by Allison Morehead

1:30 pm -3:30 pm EDT


From Occupational Therapy to Disability Art

With Suzanne Hudson, Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, Amanda Cachia

Introduced and moderated by Emily Watlington

4:00 pm -5:30 pm EDT


From a Curse to a Critical Perspective

With W. J. T. Mitchell & Hannah Zeavin

Click here for a full schedule including speaker abstracts and biographies. For questions, please email


Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.

Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email

Register for DAY 1 on May 2

Register for DAY 2 on May 3


The symposium “Institutional Psychotherapy: Legacy and Constellations of Francesc Tosquelles” is presented in partnership with the Remarque Institute at NYU, and The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. 

Lead support for this program is provided by the Institut Ramon Llull, Nina Beaty, Susan Weiler, and the Anthony Petullo Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Art Dealers Association of America Foundation, the Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions. 

Co-organized by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) and Les Abattoirs, Musée– Frac Occitanie Toulouse, this four-venue collaboration was previously presented at the Abattoirs, CCCB, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. It developed from a research project entitled “El llegat oblidat de Francesc Tosquelles” (The forgotten legacy of Francesc Tosquelles), co-produced by the Mir-Puig Private Foundation (Barcelona), the University of Barcelona, and Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona).


Left: Aerial View of the Saint-Alban Psychiatric Hospital, c. 1960, photographic reproduction. Baldran Collection, Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole, Right: Judith Scott, Untitled, 1989, fiber, string, yarn, 18 x 10 x 10 in. Greenberg–Lee Collection

11:00 am–5:00 pm

Virtual; free with registration