Monday, August 5, 2019

Walter Potter Taxidermy Weekend October 5 and 6: Symposium, Classes, Special Tours, Screenings, Show and Tells, and Costume Party!

October 5th, 10am - 5pm; and October 6th, 10am - 2pm
The Adirondacks Experience Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York

This October, we hope you can join us for a special taxidermy weekend featuring a two-day extravaganza of tours, screenings, classes, and show and tells celebrating The Adirondacks Experience Museum's current exhibition which features two of the most iconic creations of the famed Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter: The Rabbit Schoolhouse, (top 2 images), and the Monkey Riding A Goat, neither of which have been previously shown in the US.

Presenters will include British taxidermy historian Dr. Pat Morris, (author of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy); taxidermist George Dante (Wildlife Preservations); Robert Marbury (founder of Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists and author of Taxidermy Art); Ronni Thomas (director of “The Man Who Married Kittens”); Divya Anantharaman (Gotham Taxidermy), taxidermy collector J. D. Powe and Adirondack artist Barney Bellinger.

Ticket price also includes museum admission, and an animal themed masquerade at an atmospheric, taxidermy-stuffed circa 1850 hotel, with complementary buffet dinner featuring regional game (!), vegetarian and vegan options. 

You can find out more here.

Hope very much to see you there!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Festival of Arcane Knowledge: This Sunday, May 5, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Cats being instructed in the art of mouse-catching by an owl, Oil on canvas, c. 1700, Lombard School
Cats being instructed in the art of mouse-catching by an owl, 
oil on canvas, c. 1700, Lombard School
This Sunday, May 5th, is our next Festival of Arcane Knowledge--our popular day-long festival of rogue scholarship packed with illustrated talks, screenings, tours, spectacles covering a wide variety of arcane subjects.

This year's iteration will feature lavishly illustrated talks on carnival haunted houses, sexuality and surrealist Leonor Fini, hysterical women and spiritualism, alchemy and art, imaginaries of the moon, and more. It will also feature a show and tell of gorgeous Latin American retablos by collector Deborah Dwyers; a screening of "Filmic Curiosities" by Midnight Archive's Ronni Thomas; and special tours of historic Green-Wood Cemetery (founded in 1838), The Morbid Anatomy Library and our new exhibition on Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Speakers will include photographer and professor Lisa Kereszi, Museum of Sex curator Lissa Rivera, Medical Muses author Asti Hustvedt, author and journalist Mark Jacobson, artist and alchemist Brian Cotnoir. And we will end the day with a reception, rain or shine.

Following is the full lineup. Tickets are available here; admission is $45, discounted $5 for 10$/month Patreon Members. Directions to both entrances here.

This promises to be a really wonderful and stimulating day; hope very much to see you there!

Part 1 Schedule
Takes place at Fort Hamilton Gate House, Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place; directions here)
  • 12pm - Special tour of the Morbid Anatomy Library and our new exhibition “Heaven, Hell and Purgatory: Visions of the Afterlife in the Catholic Tradition” with head librarian and co-curator Laetitia Barbier and collector and major loaner Stephen Romano, of Stephen Romano Gallery
  • 1pm - End-to-end Walking tour of Green-Wood Cemetery with expert tour guide LJ Lindhurst. The tour will starting from the Fort Hamilton Gate House and leading through the Modern Chapel. (around 1 hour and 30 minutes)
Part 2 Schedule
Takes place at modern chapel one and two, inside main entrance, 5th Avenue and 25th Street; directions hereModern Chapel One
  • 2.30pm - Welcome Address
  • 2.45pm - “Haunted” by photographer Lisa Kereszi; an immersive journey through the ghost trains and haunted houses attractions of the Northeast.
  • 3.15pm - “Pale Horse Rider: The Birth of the 'Truth Movement' and Death of the American Dream," illustrated talk by author and journalist Mark Jacobson
  • 3.45pm - "Sacred Retablos of the Latin World," a lecture and show and tell with collector Deborah Dwyers featuring vintage and antique retablos, with a focus on the symbolic beauty and spiritual significance these and other folk art objects of Central and South America
  • 4.15pm - "Magical Medicine: a brief history of the art of healing by invoking supernatural forces" with Clifford Hartleigh Low
  • 4.45pm - "Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire" an illustrated lecutre with Lissa Rivera, curator of The Museum of Sex
  • 5.15pm - "Investigating the Supernatural: Scientific Quests to Colonize Hysterical Women and Psychic Mediums" an illustrated lecture by Medical Muses author Asti Hustvedt
  • 5.45pm - "Alchemy and Surrealism," an illustrated lecture with artist and alchemist Brian Cotnoir, a survey of the Opus Magnus in the work of Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, Jan Svankmajer and many other 20th artists
  • 6.15pm - Victorian Martians, an illustrated lecture with author Marc Hartzman about outer space inhabitants in the 19th century imagination
  • 6.45pm to 8pm - Reception with refreshments (Rain or Shine)
Modern Chapel Two
  • 2:30pm to 6pm - Ronni Thomas’s Midnight Cabinet of Filmic Curiosities
*** Please note: the program begins at Green-Wood Cemetery's Fort Hamilton Gate House, but will largely take place in the modern chapels near the main 25th Street entrance to the Cemetery. See schedule below for details.

Monday, April 8, 2019

FIELD TRIP: Dia de Muertos: Mayan Rebirth: The Brushing of the Bones, with Mexican Writer and Scholar Salvador Olguín


We are very excited to be teaming up with our good friend and former scholar in residence--Mexican writer and scholar Salvador Olguín--for the 4th iteration of Muerte en Mexico, in which we travel to Mexico to visit various Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations, while also learning about the holiday's rich and fascinating history.

This year we will explore the states of Yucatan and Campeche where we will learn about Hanal Pixan, a Mayan variant of Dia de Muertos. The highlight will be a visit to the small town of Pomuch, where we will witness the extraordinary Cleaning of the Bones ceremony. We will also attend the famous Festival de las Ánimas (“Festival of the Souls”) at the General Cemetery in Merida, as well as a Day of the Dead celebration in the historic fortified town of colonial Campeche, an UNESCO World heritage site.

There will also be--as always--visits to historic sites, colonial churches and traditional markets, as well as special tours, festive gatherings, and lots of opportunities to sample excellent local food and drink.

The trip will take place from October 31 - November 4, 2019; reservations must be made by July 1.

Full details follow. We hope very much hope that you can join us!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dia de Muertos: Mayan Rebirth: The Brushing of the Bones
A 4-day trip to Mexico curated, organized and guided by Mexican writer and scholar Salvador Olguín for Borderline Projects and Morbid Anatomy

Dates: October 31 - November 4, 2019 (**Must reserve by July 1)

Includes: Two Day of the Dead celebrations in the southeastern states of Yucatan and Campeche, where the Mayan variant of Dia de Muertos, better known as Hanal Pixan, takes place from October 31 to November 2 in remembrance of friends and relatives that have passed. The highlight of this year is a visit to the town of Pomuch, where people perform a cleaning up ceremony by brushing the bones of their deceased relatives during Dia de Muertos.

Cost: $685.00 USD (Includes all hotels in double-rooms, luxury ground transportation, museum admissions, guided visits, and breakfasts; airfares not included).

PLEASE NOTE: non-refundable down payment of $365.00 USD required by July 1 to reserve. Email info@borderlineprojects.com with questions.

This Halloween season join us for a very special 4-day, 4-night trip to Mexico for our favorite holiday, Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

This year we will be visiting the legendary Yucatan Peninsula, which comprises the former territories of the ancient Maya lowlands, where the main centers of the classic Mayan civilization were established around 900 BC to 300 B.C. The rich history and heritage of the Maya, coupled with the mesmerizing landscape, natural resources and cultural diversity of the Yucatan Peninsula, make it one of the great civilizing centers of humanity, and the origin of one of the most remarkable variants of the Day of the Dead tradition in Mexico: The Hanal Pixan or Comida de las almas (“Food for the souls” in Mayan language). It encompasses 3 days of celebrations (the Hanal Palal, the U Hanal Nucuch Uinicoob, and the Ha Hanal Pixanoob, consecrated to the deceased children, adults, and all souls, respectively.

Our journey will take us to two major celebrations of Hanal Pixan: The great Festival de las Ánimas (“Festival of the Souls”) celebration at the General Cemetery in Merida, the largest city of the Yucatan Peninsula and capital of the homonymous state; and the extraordinary Cleaning of the Bones ceremony that takes place during Hanal Pixan in the small town of Pomuch in the state of Campeche. This tradition is rooted in the bigger frame of the unique ossuary burial practices of this town and its cemetery, in which the graves are kept open all year long, and the exposed remains of deceased relatives are part of everyday life for the inhabitants of Pomuch. On this tour, we will get an exclusively intimate opportunity to join families for this both solemn and cheerful ritual.

The tour will also take us to join the Day of the Dead celebrations in the historic fortified town of Campeche, a former harbor town from the Spanish colonial period in the New World, and a UNESCO World heritage site.

Some other sights that will discover during this trip include the¨White City” of Merida, with The Paseo Montejo Avenue and historical district of this beautiful city founded in 1542, hosting a plethora of architectural jewels, monuments, churches, monasteries, and museums, such as the Canton Palace Merida Museum of Anthropology and the Great Museum of the Mayan World.

We will also visit the city of San de Francisco de Campeche, where we will enjoy the historical district, with its distinctively baroque style, sparkling with Andalusian Moorish influence. We will also admire some of the doors and bulwarks built in the Muralla, the imposing fortified wall that surrounds the City; A true gem of 17th and 18th century military architecture, it famously protected the inhabitant from numerous pirate attacks. Some of these fortifications now house interesting sites like the Xmuch'haltún Botanical Garden and the Museum of Mayan Archeology at the San Miguel Fort, just to mention a few.

We will also, as always, be visiting traditional markets, local cemeteries, and other lesser-known sites relevant to the Day of the Dead celebrations. We’ll enjoy special tours and gatherings to share and immerse in the celebrations honoring the departed among the warm people, rich culture, and dazzling gastronomy of the Yucatan Peninsula. 

ITINERARY

Day 1 – OCT 31, 2019 - Hanal Palal / Halloween We recommend arriving in Merida on the morning of Halloween, October 31, to visit some sites and enjoy the many Day of the Dead special celebrations held around the City. Staff will be at the hotel early in the day for check-in and general information. In the evening, we’ll attend the Festival de las Ánimas celebration.
Hotel: Merida

Day 2 – NOV 1, 2019 - U Hanal Nucuch Uinicoob
Daylight guided tour to the cemetery to witness Day of the Day family gatherings, offerings and cleaning of tombs traditions. Free time for special interest sites and tours. In the evening we will join the massive Paseo de las Animas procession.
Hotel: Merida

Day 3 – NOV 2, 2019 - Ha Hanal Pixanoob
Early in the morning after breakfast, the bus will depart to the state of Campeche to witness the Brushing of the Bones ceremonies in the small town of Pomuch, located in the Hecelchakan municipality. We will visit the ossuaries and open graves at the local cemetery. On our way there, we will make a stop at Dzitbalche, a small village that’s part of the Calkiní Artisanal Mayan Route to do some shopping. At the end of the day, we will depart to the capital city of San Francisco de Campeche to join the festivities during the last Day of the Dead celebration in the fortified city.
Hotel: San Francisco de Campeche

Day 4 – NOV 3, 2019
Daylight guided special tours to museums, cemeteries, markets and historical sites in the walled city. Optional tour for this day: a visit to the Edzna Archeological site, dating back to the Late Pre-Classic Mayan period (300 B.C. to A.D. 300). At the end of the day we will depart back to the city of Merida on board our luxury bus.
Hotel: Merida

This day marks the end of our trip. The hotel night of November 3rd is included in the tour. We recommend you use November 4th to go shopping and bring lots of souvenirs back home. If you would like to book additional nights or for more information, contact info@borderlineprojects.com
Cost: $685.00 USD – airfares not included, non-refundable down payment of $365.00 required by July 1 to reserve. Email info@borderlineprojects.com with any questions.

The $685.00 USD fee covers land transportation in a luxury bus, traveler's insurance, lodging (double rooms at hotels), taxes, breakfasts, guided tours, tickets to museums, special visits to some of the sites, and special treats.


Friday, March 29, 2019

EXHIBITION: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Visions of the Afterlife in the Catholic Tradition


EXHIBITION: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Visions of the Afterlife in the Catholic Tradition

Pieces include paintings, photographs, sculptures, historical books and prints dating from the 17th century to the present, and from locations around the world. The show also features a rich collection of Latin American masks, ex votos, and retablos.

April 20 – June 30, 2019; Weekends 12-5; Free and Open to the public
Opening Party: Friday April 26 (more below, tickets here)

In the Catholic worldview, when the body dies, the soul of the deceased is sent to a location in the afterlife to await the final judgment, at which point it will be reunited with the resurrected body. The souls of the unrepentant who have perpetrated the gravest sins are sent to hell, while the most stainless—saints who were martyred for their faith—are delivered straight to heaven. The majority of people, however, are sent to a place called purgatory. In this liminal space—a sort of temporary hell—souls are purged of their sins until they have attained the purity necessary to enter heaven and reside with God.

The idea of purgatory is a contentious one. Originally developed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it rose to popularity in the fourteenth century in response to the mass deaths wrought by the Black Plague. Disagreements about purgatory contributed directly to the birth of Protestantism. One of Martin Luther’s major points of contention in his Ninety-Five Theses of 1517 was the Church’s use of indulgences—papal grants promising to shorten or cancel a person’s time in purgatory. Once sold as ubiquitously as lottery tickets, profits were used to fund various projects including the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Since that time, the popularity of purgatory has gone in and out of fashion. Today, it is visible only in rare bastions of belief, such as Naples, Italy, and parts of Latin America. The concepts of heaven and hell, however, continue to thrive in the Catholic ethos.

This exhibition explores Catholic visions of heaven, hell, and purgatory —via art, artifacts, and material culture drawn from The Green-Wood Historic Fund Collections and the greater Morbid Anatomy community—, tracing how they have manifested in various places and shifted and changed over time.

“Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Visions of the Afterlife in the Catholic Tradition” and the Morbid Anatomy Library are free and open to the public at the Fort Hamilton Gatehouse on Saturdays and Sundays, 12 –5 PM, from April 20 to June 30. To visit outside of these hours, email events@green-wood.com.

The Gatehouse is located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, easily accessible on the F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station. The exhibition and library space are not handicap accessible. Click here for our inclement weather policy.

MORBID ANATOMY LIBRARY AND EXHIBITION OPEN HOUSE
Saturday, April 20th and Sunday, April 21rst
12pm-5pm
Free and no appointment necessary
Easter week end, join Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier for an informal gathering to celebrate the Morbid Anatomy Library as we reopen its gorgeous home, the 1877 Fort Hamilton Gate House in Green-Wood Cemetery.

This will also be your first chance to see our new exhibition Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Visions of the Afterlife in the Catholic Tradition, a carefully curated selection of art, books, artifacts and ephemera drawn from the Green-Wood archives and the hands and collections of the Morbid Anatomy Community.

PLEASE NOTE: This event takes place at the Fort Hamilton Gatehouse NOT the main entrance of Green-Wood. The Gatehouse is located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, easily accessible on the F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station. The exhibition and library space are not handicapped accessible.
ENVISIONING THE AFTERLIFE: HEAVEN, HELL AND PURGATORY, EXHIBITION OPENING AND CEMETERY GARDEN PARTY
Friday, April 26, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Tickets here

Join us for a special after-hours garden party to celebrate the return of spring and the opening of Morbid Anatomy’s new exhibition, Envisioning the Afterlife: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

Enjoy music curated by Friese Undine and complimentary refreshments while taking in the enchanting atmosphere. There will also be a special tour of the newly curated Morbid Anatomy Library by its creators, Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier, as well as an opportunity to meet the artists, collectors, and contributors to the exhibition.

PLEASE NOTE: This event takes place at the Fort Hamilton Gatehouse NOT the main entrance of Green-Wood. The Gatehouse is located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, easily accessible on the F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station. The exhibition and library space are not handicapped accessible.

Tickets are $15 / $10 for members of Green-Wood and the Morbid Anatomy Patreon.

Morbid Anatomy Library and Exhibition Open House
Saturday, April 20th and Sunday, April 21st
12pm-5pm
Free and no appointment necessary

On this Easter week end, please join Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier for an informal gathering to celebrate the Morbid Anatomy Library as we reopen its gorgeous home, the 1877 Fort Hamilton Gate House in Green-Wood Cemetery.

This will also be your first chance to see our new exhibition: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Visions of the Afterlife in the Catholic Tradition, a carefully curated selection of art, books, artifacts and ephemera drawn from the Green-Wood archives and the hands and collections of the Morbid Anatomy Community.

PLEASE NOTE: This event takes place at the Fort Hamilton Gatehouse NOT the main entrance of Green-Wood. The Gatehouse is located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, easily accessible on the F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station. The exhibition and library space are not handicapped accessible.

Images to to bottom:
  1. Purgatory Figure, Guatemala, 2017; Eye's Gallery Collection
  2. Carved charred wood Purgatory figures, Mexico, 1990s; Eye's Gallery Collection
  3. Shrine to the Souls in Purgatory: 19th Century Basilica of Saints Justus and Pastor, Barcelona, Photo by Joanna Ebenstein, 2013
  4. Angel with Charrasca | Equine Jawbone Instrument, Mochitlán, Mexico, 2017; Fuji flex print by Phyllis Galembo
  5. Mexican Retablo / Saint Michael the Archangel, holding a symbol of the all-seeing eye of God while conquering Lucifer in heaven, 19th century; Collection of Deborah Dwyer
  6. Illustration of Hell from the novella The Black Crook: A Most Wonderful History, Lithograph, 1866, The Green-Wood Historic Fund
  7. Holy Week Mask, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1960's; Eye's Gallery Collection
  8. Manuscript page depicting demons in Hell, Rajasthan, India, Early 20th Century; Stephen Romano Gallery Collection


Saturday, March 23, 2019

EVENT: Maria Sabina: Shaman, Curandera, and Visionary Poet: Illustrated Talk by Homero Aridjis on The Woman Who Inadvertently Introduced the West to "Magic Mushrooms"

On Wednesday, April 3, we are beyond honored to be hosting Homero Aridjis--a beautiful man with a distinguished career spanning poet, novelist, ambassador and environmental activist--at Green-Wood Cemetery. He will be giving an illustrated talk about his friend Maria Sabina, the Mexican curandera and shaman who invited American ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson to take part in a traditional healing ceremony using psilocybin mushrooms, inadvertently launching the 1960s psychedelics craze.

Following will be a wine reception where you can meet Homero and bring any copies of his books for signing.

You can get tickets here, and find out more below. Hope very much to see you there!
Maria Sabina: Shaman, Curandera, and Visionary Poet: An Illustrated Talk by Mexican Poet, Novelist and Diplomat Homero Aridjis
Wednesday, April 3, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Tickets are $15 / $10 for members of Green-Wood and the Morbid Anatomy Patreon
Tickets here
In 1957, Life magazine published a photo essay, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” featuring Maria Sabina, a curandera (healer) and shaman living in the Sierra Mazateca in southern Mexico. Sabina was the first to allow foreigners to take part in veladas, healing vigils when participants eat psilocybin mushrooms. The essay opened Western audiences’ eyes to the use of psychedelics and led, ultimately, to the synthesizing of LSD.

In this illustrated talk, poet, novelist, and diplomat Homero Aridjis will share his first-hand accounts of meeting Maria Sabina, whom he sees not only as a cultural icon, but also as arguably the greatest visionary poet in twentieth-century Latin America. Aridjis’s 2013 novel Carne de Dios, centers on Sabina’s life in Huautla and her involvement with Westerners who flocked to her home to experience the hallucinogenic effects of the “magic mushrooms”.

Considered to be one of Latin America’s greatest living writers, Aridjis is also widely known for his pioneering work as an environmental activist and his two-term stint as president of PEN International. Aridjis has served as Mexico’s Ambassador to Switzerland, The Netherlands, and UNESCO. Many of his fifty books of poetry and prose have been translated into fifteen languages and he has received important literary and environmental prizes in Mexico, France, Italy, the United States and Serbia. Among his books available in English are The Child Poet, Eyes to See Otherwise, A Time of Angels, Maria the Monarch, and News of the Earth, a biography of his relationship with the natural world and a wide-ranging selection of his work and writings in defense of the environment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Recorded Lectures, New Articles and More on our New Patreon!

We at Morbid Anatomy are beyond excited to announce the launch of our Patreon Page, where we are now publishing new, exclusive Morbid Anatomy content available nowhere else!

Offerings will include--by popular demand!--video (thanks, Kellfire Bray) and audio recordings of our often sold out lectures, so that those not in New York City can enjoy them as well! First up is a video recording of Dr James Kennaway's recent talk on medical arguments against the imagination and a sound recording of Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne's brief history of sex magic. Both are online now; and stay tuned, as we'll be adding many more in the weeks and months to come!

Other things you'll find will be illustrated articles by Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier along with others in the greater Morbid Anatomy Community including Marc Hartzman, Jane Rose, Harold Schechter, Evan Michelson, Karen Bachmann, Jo Weldon, Amy Cunningham; recorded interviews with fascinating makers, rogue scholars and collectors in our community; and virtual tours of our own exhibitions as well as museums and collections around the world.

All of this content is available as part of our basic Morbid Anatomy Community Tier for only $5 a month. Supporters at higher levels will also have access to exclusive swag of various sorts (both domestic and international audiences), producer credits on our videos, invitations to exclusive parties, free and discounted events, private tours, and even all expense paid trips to foreign locales, among many other benefits. You can find out more here.

Your contribution will not only get you cool stuff; it will also allow us to continue our work excavating the interstices of art and medicine, death and culture, and support us in our cultivation and celebration of arcane knowledge and rogue scholarship. It will also go a long way towards fostering the unique community that Morbid Anatomy has cultivated since our launch in 2007.

We hope you enjoy! And thanks so very much for your support!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory: CALL FOR WORKS


Anima Sola Depiction of Souls in Purgatory, mid 19th Century, from Opus Hypnagogia: Sacred Spaces of the Visionary and Vernacular, Curated by Stephen Romano for The Morbid Anatomy Museum

Our next exhibition for historic Green-Wood Cemetery, opening April 20, 2019, will explore the themes of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, and we are looking for works! If you have any objects or artifacts in your collection, or your own artworks, that you think would be a good fit and are interested in submitting, email a brief description and image to morbidanatomy.exhibition [at] gmail [dot] com. Please note: due to the number of entries, we will not be able to respond to all emails. Apologies in advance, and looking forward to seeing what you send along!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Past Life: The Artwork of Candice Angelini; A New Film by Morbid Anatomy Museum Filmmaker in Residence Ronni Thomas


Our good friend--and former filmmaker in residence at The Morbid Anatomy Museum--Ronni Thomas just launched his newest film, about the artwork of Candice Angelini. You can see the film above; you can also see it--along with many of Ronni's other excellent films--at The Midnight Archive.

Here is what Ronni has to say about the film; hope you enjoy!
When I was introduced to artist Candice Angelini it was like a flash of lightning. Her masks, dolls and head dress work were the type of uncanny, one of a kind creations I am in constant search of.  And then I heard her story. I knew I needed to fly to southern France to capture her unique and mysterious process. Here in my latest film, this former asylum nurse details how her artwork is a sort of cleansing of her previous lives. I hope you find her work and her personality as charming as I do. Her work and all my films are freely available at themidnightarchive.com

Monday, October 1, 2018

Muerte en Bolivia: Field trip to La Paz to Learn About Bolivia's Folklore, Death Culture, and Sacred Coca Leaf

We now have full information, and tickets available, for our upcoming trip to Bolivia. Hope to see you there!

Muerte en Bolivia: Field trip to La Paz to Learn About Bolivia's Folklore, Death Culture, and Sacred Coca Leaf
Field trip to Bolivia for Day of the Skulls (Dia de los Ñatitas), coca leaf and witchcraft markets, Pre-Columbian mummies and ruins, Cholita wrestling, and much more!
Monday, November 5 - Sunday, November 11, 2018
DEADLINE FOR SIGNUP: October 15, 2018
Number of attendees: 10
$2100 (Deposit of $1050 due to secure spot; will be refunded if trip cancelled because not able to get enough attendees)
INCLUDES: Hotel (single room occupancy), transportation during duration of tour, all attraction admissions, breakfasts, and one dinner
DOES NOT INCLUDE: Airfare, visas, tips. transportation to and from airport. lunches or most dinners
* We HIGHLY recommend you arrive La Paz Friday November 2 or Sat November 3 to acclimate to the altitude, which is no joke here) 
*** US residents, and some others, will need to get visa; this can be done before or at airport but HIGHLY ADVISE BEFORE. More here  
Email morbidanatomylibrary [at] gmail.com to sign up

This November, join Morbid Anatomy for a very special seven day trip to La Paz, Bolivia where, with a local professioanl guide, we'll explore the country's fascinating history, folklore, and death-related traditions, a unique blend of ancient native beliefs and Spanish Catholicism. We'll also learn the storied history of--and have ample opportunities to sample--the coca leaf, sacred plant of the Andes.

We'll visit La Paz's central cemetery for Day of the Skulls (Dia de los Ñatitas), in which human skulls are given offerings of coca leaves, cigarettes and flower petals; the El Alto Shaman's market and the famed witchcraft market with shops selling dried llama fetuses to bless new constructions, magical charms, and colorful figurines of devils and skeleton saints; and the coca leaf market.

Other highlights will include visits to La Paz's Museo de la Coca, the pre-Columbian ruins of Tiwanaku and the tropical Afro Bolivian town of Coroico, a visit to a studio that produces costumes and masks for La Paz's famed festivals, Cholita wrestling, a wildlife preserve, the surreal landscape of Valle de la Luna, gorgeous colonial churches and convents, and museums packed with astounding treasures.

There will also be opportunities to eat native foods, explore markets, and learn the ancient Andean art of coca leaf consumption and its history as a sacred plant. Along the way, we'll learn from our knowledgeable tour guide about the folklore and beliefs of this unique culture, past and present.

ITINERARY
Please Note: Exact itinerary might change, but all listed attractions will be included

Day 1 (Monday, November 5)
Town overview by Funicular
El Alto
Markets, shamans market
Buy coca leaves and instruction in consumption

Day 2 (Tuesday, November 6)
Museo Nacional de Arte (National Museum of Art)
San Francisco Church and San Francisco Church Museum
Witchcraft Market
Folkloric dinner (included with ticket price)

Day 3 (Wednesday, November 7):
Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) 
Coca Museum
National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore

Day 4 (Thursday, November 8)
La Paz' national cemetery for Dia de los Natitas (Day of the Skulls)

Day 5 (Friday, November 9)
Coroico: The Yungas; tropical area settled by Afro Bolivians (day trip, drive from Andes to tropical region)
Coca Market
Senda Verde Wildlife preserve
Coffee plantation

Day 6 (Saturday, November 10)
Tiwanaku pre-columbian archaeological site
Visit to masks and costume studio

Day 7 (Sunday, November 11)
Cholita Wresling
Independent city exploration; churches, markets, museums. and cemetery

Day 8: (Monday, November 12)
Check out of hotel
Flights home

Images, top to bottom: Getty Images; Sky News; LatinoFiesta

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Morbid Anatomy Vienna Anatomy Weekend at the Narrenturm and the Josephinum: Registration Now Open!



Morbid Anatomy Vienna Anatomy Weekend at the Narrenturm and the Josephinum
Vienna, Austria
October 13 and 14, 2018
All programs will be in English.

DUE TO LIMITED SPACE, *** MUST*** REGISTER IN ADVANCE

For Josephiunum Events:
E-Mail: josephinum@meduniwien.ac.at
Phone: +43 1 40160 26001

For Narrenturm Events:
E-Mail: pas@nhm-wien.ac.at
Phone: +43 1 521 77 606

Please join us this October as we partner with two of the world's most magnificent medical museums--The Josephinum, housing a historical collection of 18th century anatomical wax models crafted by Italy's La Specola workshop, and the pathological-anatomical collection housed in an 18th century former madhouse, the Narrenturm.

Also, please note: this will be one of your last chances to see The Josephinum before it closes down for renovations!

This special weekend will include exclusive front and back stage tours of these incredible historic collections, along with the opportunity to make your own wax moulage and draw 18th century wax models removed from their cases. It will also include illustrated lectures by Eduard Winter of the Narrenturm, conservator Martina Peters of the Josephinum, medical illustrator Marie Dauhiemer, wax artist Eleanor Crook, and Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein, all touching on the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture.

SCHEDULE

Saturday October 13
  • Tours, lectures and drawing from the specimens workshop at the Josephinum
  • Tours at the Narrenturm
Sunday October 14
  • Tours and moulage making workshop at the Narrenturm
FULL SCHEDULE: SATURDAY OCTOBER 13

Josephinum
  • Lectures, guided tours, and workshop
  • Lectures and guided tour: 40 EUR per person
  • Guided tour (without lectures): 25 EUR per person
  • Drawing workshop (with original, uncased wax models from the collection): 35 EUR per person (all materials provided)

10:00 am – 12:00 pm – Lectures
12:00 pm – 13:00 pm – Lunch break
13:00 pm – 14:30 pm – Drawing workshop, guided tour
14:30 pm – 15:00 pm – Coffee break (Lesesaal-Josephinum, incl. coffee, cold drinks and snacks)
15:00 pm – 16:30 pm – Drawing workshop, guided tour
17:00 pm – 18:30 pm – guided tour

Lectures
  1. Eduard Winters of the Narrenturm: The Pathologic-anatomical Collection Vienna Preparations from the Last 222 Years
  2. Martina Peters of the Josephinum: Waxworks at the Josephinum: History and Technology
  3. Marie Dauhiemer of The Vesalius Trust: Bernard Siegfried Albinius, Jan Wandelaar, and the Creation of Homo Perfectus
  4. Wax Anatomical Artist Eleanor Crook: Wax Moulage: Trophies of the Extremes of Human Experience
  5. Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein The Anatomical Venus: An Enlightenment-era St. Teresa Ravished by Communion with the Invisible Forces of Science

Guided tours

The guided tours will offer deeper look into the Josephinum’s extensive collection of historical anatomical wax models back and front stage. Attendees will learn about human anatomy with the help of the historic waxworks. They will also see the extensive collection of pathological obstetric wax models learn about the history and origin of the collections and museum.

The tours will also include a visit backstage to the conservation atelier, where you will learn about the challenges of the artefact’s protection and maintenance. We will also see The Josephinum’s unique collection of ophthalmological 19th century wax moulages; crafted by by Johann Hofmayer under supervision of Professor Anton von Rosas, they are not generally on view to the public.

Workshop

In this workshop, Martina Peters, conservator at the Josephinum, will guide students in drawing wax anatomical models from the collection. Two original 18th century models will be removed from their historic glass cases to allow for a more detailed study. The participants will hereby have the opportunity to explore human anatomy in the classical 18th century manner. All material--including sketch blocks, pencils (HB, 2B and 6B), erasers and sharpeners as well as easels--will be provided.

Narrenturm

Open hours at the museum are from 10-13h. We will provide English guided tours every hour, starting at 10am, 11am and 12am. The tour will take you through the study collection of the museum. We will charge the normal (opening hours) fee of 8€ per person. Each tour will last 45 minutes.

SUNDAY, 14TH OF OCTOBER 2018

Narrenturm4 different tours, 15 participants each, 1 hour each
10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm
1 tour: 12€ each
3 or 4 tours: 10€ each
Wax moulage making workshop: 50 €

 TOURS
  • Architecture
  •  Study collection plus extra rooms (not included in the opening hour tours)
  • Gynaecology + Electropathology + Veterinary pathologies
  • Behind the scenes
Wax Moulage Making Workshop with Ceroplast Eleanor Crook 10 am and 1 pm, maximum 12 people
2 classes with 12 participants for each class
50€ all materials included

Let acclaimed sculptor Eleanor Crook guide you in creating your very own wax pathology sculpture. Crook has lent her experience to professionals ranging from forensic law enforcement officers to plastic surgeons, so is well placed to help you make a horrendously lifelike model of leprosy, syphilis, scars, boils or blisters, - any dermatological case. Each participant will end up with a mounted wax face moulage to keep, and will learn wax modelling the details, colouring , hair insertion and the traditional presentation method using a bandage and pins on a board for wall hanging. Materials and tools will be explained and demonstrated, disease processes illustrated, dire pathologies imitated, and the afflicted face of an unfortunate will eventually grace your home.

Eleanor Crook trained in sculpture at Central St Martins and the Royal Academy and makes figures and effigies in wax, carved wood and lifelike media. She has also made a special study of anatomy and has sculpted anatomical and pathological waxworks for the Gordon Museum of Pathology at Guy's Hospital, London's Science Museum, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Vrolik Museum Amsterdam.She exhibits internationally in both fine art and science museum contexts. In the interest of making figures more lifelike than the living, using a generous grant from the Wellcome Trust she developed the incorporation of electronic animatronics systems into the sculptures so that her moribund and macabre creations now can twitch and mutter. She is artist in residence at the Gordon Museum of Pathology, a member of the Medical Artists' Association, runs a course in Anatomy drawing at the Camberwell School of Art and restores historic wax medical collections for a number of institutions.

Top image: 18th century Anatomical Venus; Alexander Ablogin/Josephinum. All others by Joanna Ebenstein.



Monday, September 10, 2018

EXHIBITION: Bridging Two Worlds: The Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead

"Dante's Inferno", Unknown Artist, found in Mid-Western US, circa 1940's - 1950's, Courtesy of the Stephen Romano Gallery
We are delighted to announce a new exhibition we have produced as part of our autumn residency at Green-Wood Cemetery. Entitled Bridging Two Worlds: The Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead, the exhibition will explore, via objects and artworks drawn from collection of the greater Morbid Anatomy Community and Green-Wood Historic Fund, the ways in which we conceptualize and attempt to stay in contact with the realm of the dead.

The exhibition be on from view Saturday, September 22 through Sunday, December 2 at Green-Wood Cemetery's spectacular 19th century Fort Hamilton Gatehouse, and will feature pieces ranging from a Ghanian figurative coffin to Catholic relics to outsider art to spirit photographs to contemporary fine art, drawn from The Morbid Anatomy Collection, Green-Wood Historic Fund, The Brooklyn Public Library, Stephen Romano Gallery, Cole Harrell Gallery and Invisible Gallery and the private collections of Laetitia Barbier, Doug DeFeis, Joanna Ebenstein, Erika Larsen, Sherry Kerlin, Evan Michelson, Sarah Murray, Rebecca Purcell, Shannon Taggart, Mallorie Vaudoise and Cathy Ward.

On Friday, September 21, we hope you'll join us for our opening party, where you can meet artists and collectors and enjoy music and refreshments after-hours at the cemetery; more on that here.

You can find out more about the exhibition below. Very much hope to see you there!

Bridging Two Worlds: The Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead
Saturday, September 22 - Sunday, Dec 2, 2018
Weekends 12 - 5
Free and open to the public
The Fort Hamilton Gatehouse at Green-Wood Cemetery (Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station or Church Street Station)
More here 

Today, many people see the death of the body as the end of life. For most of human history, however, many believed--as some still do--that the dead continued to live on after death in another, invisible world. These worlds could be bridged by individuals such as the shaman, medium, and the priest. There was also the psychopomp, whose job it was to guide the souls of the dead from this world to the next.

Bridges between the worlds could also take the form of practices, including rituals, ancestor worship, sacrificial offerings, and prayer. Some cultures even believed that there were special times of the year when the boundaries between the worlds were particularly porous, allowing the dead to pay a visit to the land of the living, such as Mexico's Day of the Dead or Chinese New Year.

Today, we continue to create metaphoric bridges between the land of the living and the land of the dead; doctors and scientists define and defy the boundaries between the worlds, while the study of history, familial and cultural traditions, the contemplation of objects from the past, and monuments we build to remember the dead--including cemeteries such as Green-Wood--create bridges that allow us to honor and stay in communion with those we have lost.

This exhibition seeks to explore the ways in which we bridge the worlds of the living and the dead via objects and artworks drawn from collection of the greater Morbid Anatomy Community and Green-Wood Historic Fund

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Special Morbid Anatomy Taxidermy Tour with Dr Pat Morris, Taxidermy History Expert and Author of "Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy"

We are very excited to announce a special taxidermy tour this September featuring an exclusive chance to view rarely seen Walter Potter tableaux as well as private collections, historic mansions and 19th century museums--front and back stage--led by Dr Pat Morris, taxidermy historian and foremost collector of the work of eccentric Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter.
More information is below. Space is extremely limited. Please email us at morbidanatomy [a] gmail.com before July 26 if you might be interested in joining. More detailed information, booking form and request for a deposit will be mailed to you with a deadline of mid August to confirm your participation.
Taxidermy Tour: Behind the Scenes and Private Collection Taxidermy Tour with Dr Pat Morris, Taxidermy history expert and author of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy
September 3-9, 2018
London and environs
$2000-$2200 (Exact number given when we determine the number of attendees; Includes hotels, transportation within the UK, museum admissions, and some meals. Attendees will be responsible for their own airfare to and from London.)
Trip limited to 9 plus 3 staff members.

Space is extremely limited. Please email us at morbidanatomy [a] gmail.com before July 26
if you might be interested in joining. More detailed information, booking form and request for a deposit will be mailed to you with a deadline of mid August to confirm your participation.

Please join us this September for an exclusive taxidermy tour featuring rarely seen Walter Potter pieces as well as private collections, historic mansions and 19th century museums--front and back stage--led by Dr Pat Morris, taxidermy historian and foremost collector of the work of eccentric Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter. He will be accompanied and assisted by Joanna Ebenstein, creator of Morbid Anatomy and co-author and lead photographer on Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy, and Laetitia Barbier, Morbid Anatomy head librarian.

On this trip. we'll pay several visits Dr Morris' house, where we will see rarely seen Walter Potter pieces, including one of his most famous tableaux, The Death and Burial of Cock Robin (1861). We will also see the tableau A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed, Potter's stuffed pet cat and dog, and his first piece of taxidermy, a canary along with rare archival materials, books, magic lantern slides, and ephemera related to the Potter Museum.

The Morris Collection also contains pieces by around 150 taxidermists, including Hermann Ploucquet, whose anthropomorphic pieces delighted Queen Victoria and probably inspired a young Potter, as well as Rowland Ward and Peter Spicer; thousands of documents and photographs; and copies of all the books on taxidermy published in Britain (some not even in the British Library!) and a selection of works from other countries. 
We will also visit the home of professional taxidermist Barry Williams, which houses his personal extensive collection of historic specimens. We will see him at work, and join him for afternoon tea while we enjoy a tour of his collection.
The trip will also feature special guided tours by Dr Morris of the UK's most historic and fascinating natural history collections, such as Tring Natural History Museum, opened in 1892 to make available to the public the private collation of rich eccentric Lionel Walter Rothschild; The Booth Museum of Natural History, founded in 1874 and featuring  pioneering ‘habitat group’ displays from the 19th century; The Horniman Museum, founded to showcase the Frederick John Horniman personal collection 'illustrating natural history and the arts and handicrafts of various peoples of the world' from around 1860 (with a visit to the Museum’s store to see the beautiful Hart collection of British birds); The Grant Museum of Zoology, one of the oldest natural history collections in the UK famous for its jar of moles and rare specimens such as a qyuagga skeleton, preserved Tazmanian Tigers, and dodo bones; the London Natural History Museum a 19th century 'cathedral to nature' housing its infamous hummingbird cabinet; The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History, which presents the world displayed through wonder enclosed within a tiny space, inspired by the pre-enlightenment origins of the museum as Wunderkabinett; and The Saffron Walden Museum with a small natural history collection dating to 1832 and ‘Wallace’ a famous lion. There will also be a stop off to experience "human taxidermy" in the form of the auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham.

There will also be special guided tours of two magnificent National Trust historic mansions: Calke Abbey; this is a huge mansion originally built in the 12th century as an Augustinian priory and housing a varied collection of stuffed birds, mammals, fossils, and other natural history oddities gathered by a succession of the eccentric owners who lived there over the centuries and Audley End House, a mansion built in the early 17th century and housing the second largest display of historic country house taxidermy open to the public in Britain including many spectacular ornamental bird cases
Some evenings may be devoted to talks by Dr Morris on topics such as ‘historical taxidermy’ and the massive Van Ingen factory in India illustrated by pieces from Dr Morris' collection.




Thursday, June 21, 2018

SAVE THE DATE: Muerte en Bolivia: Field trip to La Paz to Learn about Bolivia's Death Culture, Folklore, and Sacred Coca Leaf with a Native Guide!

This November, we hope you'll join Morbid Anatomy for a very special seven day trip to La Paz, Bolivia where, with a native guide, we'll explore the country's fascinating history, folklore, and death-related traditions, a unique blend of ancient native beliefs and Spanish Catholicism. We'll also learn the storied history of--and have ample opportunities to sample--the coca leaf, sacred plant of the Andes.

We'll visit La Paz's central cemetery for Festival of the Skulls (Fiesta de los Ñatitas), in which human skulls are given offerings of coca leaves, cigarettes and flower petals; the famed witches market, with shops selling dried llama fetuses to bless new constructions, magical charms, and colorful figurines of devils and skeleton saints; and the coca leaf market. Other highlights will include visits to La Paz's Museo de la Coca, the Unesco World Heritage site of the pre-Columbian ruins of Tiwanaku, a blessing of the cars at Lake Titicaca's Copacabana, a visit to the tropical Afro Bolivian town of Coroico, Cholita wrestling, gorgeous colonial churches and convents, and museums packed with astounding treasures. There will also be opportunities to eat native foods, explore markets, and learn the ancient Andean art of coca leaf consumption. Along the way, we'll learn from our knowledgeable tour guide about the folklore and beliefs of this unique culture, past and present. 

More soon; stay tuned! 

Images, top to bottom: Getty Images; Sky News; LatinoFiesta

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Book on the Art, History and Symbolism of The Tarot by Morbid Anatomy and Strange Attractor Press!


We at Morbid Anatomy are delighted to announce a new project with our good friend Mark Pilkington at Strange Attractor Press: a new illustrated book about the art and history of the tarot. We are just launching a campaign via Unbound in order to help us raise the funds we need to create it. Awards range from a pre-order of the book to include signed, limited edition hardback versions of the book, tarot readings and classes, custom totes, and much more! You can find out more about the book below; you can find out more about our fundraising campaign– and pre-order a copy of the book! – by clicking here. Thanks so much for your interest and support!

Stars, Fools and Lovers will explore the art, history and symbolism of the tarot through dozens of antique and forgotten cards, from the well-known Rider Waite Smith deck to Austin Osman Spare's recently discovered Major Arcana, as well as reinterpretations by contemporary artists.

The tarot's origins stretch back to ancient Egypt but the cards as we know them today have their roots in 18th century Europe as playing cards. Since then, the seventy-eight card deck has become one of the most popular visual oracles of all time, and one of the most adaptable as well. Along the way it has inspired seekers, occultists, artists, film makers, writers, pop stars and fashion designers -- its influence can be seen in the work of the Surrealists as well as the TV series Twin Peaks.

Perhaps the reason for this is because the tarot has an uncanny ability to put us in touch with truths of which we are not consciously aware. The tarot, with its intuitive symbology, provides a bridge to our own unconscious. Or, as some believe, it provides access to invisible worlds beyond our understanding. Regardless of your beliefs and approach, our new book Stars, Fools and Lovers will provide you with the tools you need – along with a wealth of visual inspiration – to begin your own exploration of its complex and rich world.

Stars, Fools and Lovers will contain an array of cards drawn from original and forgotten decks as well as creative reimaginings by contemporary artists. Alongside these images, the book will explore how, over centuries of use, the tarot’s archetypal imagery has evolved and the cards' meanings have shifted. It will investigate the hidden history and many interpretations of the Major Arcana, deciphering the archetypes behind each figure and plumbing their complex histories, and trace the ways in which artists and illustrators from around the world have reinterpreted the Arcanas according to their cultural backgrounds and the problems they faced.

This book includes a history of the tarot and its use, as well as instructions on how to read the cards intuitively, to follow its traditions without dogma and suggests ways to experiment with the cards to find inspiration and enlightenment. The book will also present the thoughts of a variety of professional tarot readers about the pleasures and pitfalls of practical cartomancy.

Written and collected by Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier – herself a professional tarot reader – and Strange Attractor Press's Mark Pilkington, this book is equal parts art book, how-to, history, and a meditation on tarot symbolism and its uses.

Biographies of the authors:

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer and the founder of Morbid Anatomy. She is the editor of Death: A Graveside Companion (2017), author of The Anatomical Venus (2016) and co-author of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy (2014).

After studying art history at the Sorbonne in Paris, Laetitia Barbier became the head librarian of Morbid Anatomy and is a professional tarot reader in New York.

Mark Pilkington is the founder of the London-based Strange Attractor Press and the editor of its irregular Journal. He is the author of Mirage Men (2010) and Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science's Outer Edge (2007). He has written on music, art, film, cultural history and esoterica for publications including The Guardian, Frieze, Fortean Times, Boing Boing, The Wire, Sight and Sound, and has contributed to numerous anthologies.

Again, you can make a pledge or pre-order a copy of the book here. Thanks so much for your interest and support!