Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just a picture in a frame

I got into trouble for taking this. I was in the art museum and this was an advertising display between galleries. I had reasoned to myself that I wasn't in contravention of regulations and it wasn't an exhibit per se. I just liked the way the chairs had been placed beside the display. I was on the floor and squinting through the viewfinder, framing the picture. But looking at the picture, how many frames are in the frame? When we put something in a frame we place it in a container. The container is designed to hold something and indeed analytical psychologists like to refer to containers as having distinct boundaries. The room where psychotherapy takes place is a container where two people work together. All is confidential so the container can be said to be a leak-tight one. Sometimes we refer to the alchemical tradition where two elements are placed in a container with the intention that the combination will lead to something new. And in the gestalt tradition, the client may "re-frame" elements of his or her life.
Addendum. My thanks to sister-in-law Laura, who tracked down the name of the painting. The title is "Man writing a letter" by 17th century Dutch painter, Gabriel Metsu (1629-67). She spotted the oriental carpet on the table, the black clothes and the pen, as typical of the period.