An evening of discussion, hosted by artist Emma Smith with contributions from invited guests specialising in child development, children’s rights, and psychoanalysis. This event will consider and seek to unpack some of the key themes and ideas from Smith’s exhibition, Wunderblock.
Wunderblock is an exhibition of new work by artist Emma Smith, drawing on original historical research into the post-war fascination with the infant mind. Set against a history of state interest and intervention into child development after the Second World War, and a preoccupation with the accountability of the mother, Wunderblock questions and inverts some of this complex narrative to consider the agency of the child.
In the history of childhood, the child has emerged from an un-recognised entity to a protected status of vulnerability. But where in this history has the child been acknowledged as having agency in their own right? And to what extent does the child influence the adult world, both the children around us and the child we used to be? What is the agency of the child and what structures of power / societal expectations can this sit within? Can the child’s influence be seen in relation to the feminist idea of power to transform others, rather than to have power over them?
The event will reflect on Smith’s research and that of the Hidden Persuaders Project at Birkbeck, University of London. It will also consider contemporary attitudes to the shaping of the infant mind, and encourage attendees to question and consider their own beliefs in relation to the current status of children and young people in our society.