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Author: Javier Viver
Design: Gonzalo Golpe, Javier Viver
Texts: Carlos Chiclana Actis y Cía, Javier Rodríguez Martínez, Priscilla Echeverría Alvarado y Anónimo
Size: 22.5 x 22.5 cm
Language: Trilingual (ENG-ESP-FRA)
Publication year: 2015
The Iconographie de La Salpêtrière is one of the first photographic ar- chives in the field of clinical psychiatry.
Under the direction of Jean-Martin Charcot, and financed by the French government, this archive constituted an effort to catalogue the unclassifi- able through new photographic-documentary techniques. The realm of the marginal –whatever failed to fit into the rational logic of the modern proj- ect– was subject to dissection at La Salpêtrière. It was systematically mea- sured, documented, and classified.
In this operation, however, the use of photography fostered the incorporation of spectacle and, with it, an entire network of complicities between patients and photographers. The spectacle of La Salpêtrière became a variety show at every Tuesday session, played out in front of a representative sampling of cultural and scientific elites, through the induction of contortions by hypnosis, epileptic seizures, and fits of hysteria, and the registry and exhibition of cabi- nets of curiosities, biological rarities, freaks, and other phenomena.
The result is an unprecedented photographic archive, a witness to the colo- nial era, assembled with the “panoptic” intent of a disciplinary regime, and a systematic documentation of the limits of the human soul.
Based on field work with more than 4,000 photographs and thirty-two vol- umes published between 1875 and 1918, Javier Viver has assembled a new compilation and edition of the iconography of the celebrated Parisian hospi- tal. Beyond its very original clinical interpretation, the archive is presented in a contemporary critical context, open to new readings, associations, and lev- els of interpretation.