Don Quixote complex and investigations into fictionality

Lena Séraphin

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The doctoral dissertation The Don Quixote Complex and Investigations into Fictionality is based on the notion of mutable identity: The impulse that if I were another, the work I create would also be other. During my research I have experimented with conveying a fictional character as my colleague and introduced that we together have created the art productions that are part of this dissertation. This is to say that the point of departure has been to render a real character and that the idea of fiction as a potential is my basic supposition. The character Andrea Meinin Bück and the artist Lena Séraphin consolidate their collaboration on the framing story The Don Quixote Complex. We experiment with displaying photographs from military archives within the context of an artistic statement in order to avoid a presentation that rewards expressions of absolute power. In my artistic practice I process fictionality as spatial rendition and fictionality unfolds as a critical praxis in conjunction with the formulation of a problem in this research. Visiting the Finnish Defence Forces image-archive engendered another experience of mutable identity. The sensation of visually induced polarization gave rise to the research questions: ”How can the photograph of a march-past in Hangö, on the second of June 1943, be shown without elevating and reproducing fascist enthusiasm?”, ”How can the photograph of the march-past be shown without shoring up a prescriptive nationalist historical narrative?”, ”How can the photograph be presented so that it is made topical in a personal sphere?” and ”How can the photograph be presented without a simple and unambiguous repudiation?” The Don Quixote Complex and Investigations into Fictionality is an artistic and practice-led study, and during my research I have assumed writing, reading, and visual conception as my methods. In other words I have considered solutions that stem from an artistic practice and read with the intention of exploring plural identities. With the writing I navi-gate a meta-theoretical space and advance essays without claiming logical chronology, however I do claim writing as a performative practice. In the essay Andrea as Andrea in Andrea Meinin Bück the collaboration with a fictional character is recounted and the exhibition Lena Séraphin, Andrea Meinin Bück & The Don Quixote Complex is analyzed on the basis of embodied visual consideration. In The Wanderers I try out distancing while writing in third person, calling myself the essayist and letting her study subjectivity in relation to alter egos and doppelgangers. In On fiction as Threat and Possibility, Don Quixotes and Bovarysm I explore privileged narratives and literary works that reassess Miguel Cervantes’ character Don Quixote. The purpose is to contextualize The Don Quixote Complex, to transform a literary figuration to a spatial rendi¬tion and show how fiction can have cognitive capacity. The Don Quixote Complex and Investigations into Fictionality strive to show the imaginary as a knowledgeable environment and affirm multiplying claims on identity.
Translated title of the contributionDon Quixote complex and investigations into fictionality
Original languageSwedish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7274-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7273-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • writing, reading and visual conception as method
  • fiction as potentiality
  • fictionality
  • imaginary
  • experiments
  • subjectivity
  • identity
  • transformation
  • figuration
  • Don Quixote
  • doppelganger
  • provileged narratives
  • bovarysm

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