Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pathological Circuses

A celebration of sleeping wax wonders

Great was the time when pure entertainment was interlaced with pretended education, explicit horror and uncertain marvel.
Between XIX and XX centuries, at the peak of the confusion between new and old medias, between mechanical wonders and human stage talents, the fairgrounds pullulated with the anatomical cabinets. Following a long Renaissance tradition, some exhibitors developed an unparalled talent in the fabrication of wax simulacra. Not just of historical celebrities, nor of famous battles or life of Saints. But the reproductions of the mysteries inside our bodies, and of the most abherrated plagues. In the same afternoon, you could have attended with your children at a magician show sawing a woman in half without see a gut of blood; then admire the booth of a talking severed head without any anathomical trace under his neck. Later, if you dared to visit kings of the fairs as the “Musée Anathomique, Ethnologique et Pathologique du Docteur Spitzner”, you had the vision of the real thing. The morbid, sculpted, painted wax carefully reproducing all the colorful cornucopia of our sacred bodies interiors. Softly sleeping venuses in glass cases, as dismembered Madonnas in some profane temples; elegantly dressed babies with their stomaches gently opened as the windows of a fairy tale house; masterfully arranged diorama to illustrate the effects of syphilis in all the epics of the classic masters of painting. Today this is not anymore part of the show business.
And we devote a gallery to this world.

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