Over these past couple of weeks I have been attempting to turn the skeletal framework of my intended project into something concrete and physical. This is perhaps a rather ironic way of putting things seeing as my project will be entirely digital, but to rephrase, I have been endeavouring to put the theory of my intended work into practice.
My initial idea was to compile an online exhibition of Victorian post-mortem photography, but I soon realised that things could not be so simple. It would not be enough to simply have a collection of images scrambled together on a web page and so I discovered that a cohesive narrative was needed to loop these extraordinary photographs together. And it is for this reason that I chose to start the narrative of my project far earlier than the birth of photography in the 1830s, but rather in the mid eighteenth century, and the intricately fascinating anatomical wax models of Anna Morandi Manzolini.
These models toe an interesting line between what is deemed ‘art’ and what is deemed ‘science,’ something which I feel carries over to the Victorian phenomenon of Victorian post-mortem photography. It is for this reason that I decided the narrative of my exhibition to be ‘The Artistry of Anatomy in Eighteenth Century and Victorian Visual Culture’ (catchy title I know!). The intention of the project will be to question how anatomical presentations of the body can be deemed both artistic and scientific. In this sense I hope not to stop simply with anatomy models and photography but also with Victorian medical illustrations and funereal artefacts, in order to highlight this relationship between anatomy and art.
I suppose my next step will be to make sense of all these ideas and attempt to scale down the vast array of material which relates this this topic. For now I will leave you with one of Morandi’s most famous models, entitled ‘Self Portrait with Brains,’ thanks for reading!