Benjamin H. D. Buchloh

Dieter Roth, Solo Szenen (Solo Scenes), 1997–98, 131 video monitors, media players, shelving. Installation view, Arsenale, Venice, 2013. From “The Encyclopedic Palace.” Photo: Kate Lacey. © Dieter Roth Estate.

WHEN THE GERMAN PSYCHIATRIST Hans Prinzhorn published his Bildnerei der Geisteskranken, or Artistry of the Mentally Ill, in 1922, the ethics of his project were undoubtedly progressive: In light of Freud’s new theories, he sought to communicate to a broader public that the private articulations in painting, drawing, and writing of innumerable psychic disorders—from mere neuroses to dementia—merited far more attention and recognition than they had previously been granted. But Prinzhorn was hardly proposing a new aesthetic, certainly not one akin to that of the Surrealists, who three years later would claim the practices of mental patients as further evidence of the universally liberating forces of the unconscious (even if those “liberated” remained incarcerated in the asylum). When Massimiliano Gioni, the curator of this year’s Fifty-Fifth Venice Biennale, selected a

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