Today: Memento Macabre: Film Sketches from The Mütter Museum.

Today, at 6 pm in S-2.18 (Lucas Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus), there will be a showing of two experimental films shot and created entirely around the pathological collection of the world renowned Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, with a discussion of the process, the ethical approach and difficulties that visual artists have when working with human remains and medical institutions for a project. And, from a more strictly cinematic point of view, discuss the visual choices and solutions that were eventually chosen for the making of the films.

Through the Weeping Glass” by The Brothers Quay colour, B/N, USA 31’ 2011

The Deformity of Beauty- A Last Dance with the Mütter Maidens” by Valentina Lari B/N, USA/UK 20’ 2011

“Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos & Afterbreezes in the Mütter Museum)” is a documentary on the collections of books, instruments, and medical anomalies at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. This short film, commissioned by the College, is the first made by the internationally recognized Quay Brothers in the United States. The coupling of the Quay Brothers’ vision with the collections of the Mütter Museum and the College’s Historical Medical Library has produced a riveting experience of contemplative set pieces in which the Quays find poetry in the ill-fated, true-life stories of the “ossified man” Harry Eastlack and famed Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker. Adding to the film’s visual strength is a powerful musical score by composer Timothy Nelson and a resonant voice-over by Derek Jacobi.

“The Deformity of Beauty. A Last Dance with the Mütter Maidens” is an experimental film by visual artist Valentina Lari inspired by selected real female specimens currently hosted by the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. Their stories are revealed through the presence of a beautiful young woman, a timeless visitor who becomes the witness of the secrets and adventures of these mysterious and somehow unfortunate medical marvels. A last dance symbolises the main character’s spiritual -and physical- liberation and it’s also a celebration of beauty. Inspired by an essay by philosopher David Hume the film deals with the notion of beauty and deformity through a dreamlike narrative and a haunting soundtrack by British composer glynne Cicada. All the stories are researched and based on the records of the museum and includes the sad tale of Mary Ashberry an achondroplasticdwarf who perished of a broken heart after losing her new-born baby; Francisca Seycora, a prostitute who died in Vienna and who’s skull is part of the famous Hyrtl Collection. And many many more. The film won the Amsterdam Film Festival Van Gogh Award for World Cinema – Experimental Film 2012.

The film showing and discussion will be on Wednesday 24th October at 6pm in the Lucas Lecture Theatre (S-2.18) on the Strand Campus.
All are welcome to attend and there is no need to RSVP.


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