Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Head Composed of Writhing Écorché Figures Composed in the Manner of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Wellcome Collection

"Recently conserved painting of a head composed of writhing écorché figures, composed in the manner of Giuseppe Arcimboldo (right: Wellcome Library no. 44576i)." Click on image to see much larger, more detailed version.

Via The Wellcome Library blog.

Amazing Animated Gifs of a Circa 1920s Coney Island, from "Speedy," 1928

Animated gifs created from he nighttime Coney Island sequence featured the 1928 Harold Lloyd vehicle Speedy. You can watch the clip from which it is is drawn by clicking here.

Synopisis of the film, from IMDB:
Speedy (1928)
"Speedy" loses his job as a soda-jerk, then spends the day with his girl at Coney Island. He then becomes a cab driver and delivers Babe Ruth to Yankee Stadium, where he stays to see the game. When the railroad tries to run the last horse-drawn trolley (operated by his girl's grandfather) out of business, "Speedy" organizes the neighborhood oldtimers to thwart their scheme. Written by Herman Seifer
Found here.

Die Mysteriosen Catakomben, Poster, Late 19th Century?

I don't know the story on this, but I absolutely love it. Found here.

Automatons in the News AND at the Airport!

Our buddy Jere Ryder of the Guinness Collection of automata at the Morris Museum just forwarded me a CBS video that features his automata collection, a truly enchanting automaton at the Franklin Institute in Philly (which, we are informed, inspired the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret), and provides a very engaging history of the craft to boot. Highly recommended! To view, simply press the play button above.

Also, for the automaton lovers among you who happen to be passing through the San Francisco International Airport international terminal before June 2012, you can go check out some automatons on display between flights! Click here for more on that. More on the Morris Museum collection can be found here.

Thanks very much to Jere Ryder for sending these links along.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Upcoming Morbid Anatomy Presents Events: "Granny Dump Mountain" and "Buried Alive!" A Matchbox Theatre Exploring the 19th C Fear of Being Buried Alive

Coming up tomorrow night as part of Morbid Anatomy Presents at Observatory, we have the illustrated story of Justin Nobel's journey in search of the truth behind the Japanese concept of obasute-yama or Granny Dump Mountain. Coming up next week, we have the eagerly anticipated "Buried Alive," a miniature matchbox theatre performance (pictured above) which describes itself as a "frightfully funny exploration of our fear of being buried alive and of the curious phenomenon of 19th Century 'waiting mortuaries.'"

Full details follow for both events. Hope to see you at one of both!

The Search for Granny-Dump Mountain
Illustrated lecture by
Journalist Justin Nobel
Date: Thursday, January 26th
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

When elders in rural Japan reached age 70--or so an ancient legend would have it--their sons would carry them to the top of a holy mountain and leave them to die of exposure and starvation. Granny-dump mountain, or obasute-yama, was seen as a way to trim the population and make way for the next generation in cold mountain villages where food was short and winter was long. It is referenced by the obscure eleventh century diarist Lady Sarashina, master haiku poet Matsuo Basho and a 1983 Palme d’Or winning film, yet most anthropologists doubt the practice ever actually existed.

Intrigued by this story, journalist Justin Nobel took to the road to see if he could get to the bottom of this enigmatic legend. His travels ultimately led him to a tiny town in northern Japan haunted by cannibalistic mountain men and shape shifting sprites. After scouring the countryside for clues he came to a shocking conclusion: the legend was very much alive, right in the heart of Tokyo.

Tonight join Morbid Anatomy and Justin Nobel to hear the story of his search for the elusive Granny-Dump Mountain.

Justin Nobel is a freelance journalist. His writing has appeared in TIME, Popular Mechanics, Audubon, Guernica and Meatpaper. His essay, The Last Inuit of Quebec, was recently included in Best American Travel Writing 2011 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). He pens a blog called Digital Dying for the funeral information website funeralwise.com and another called the Absurd Adventurer where he sits for hours in one New York City spot. He lives in Blissville.

Image: A plaque commemorating Granny-dump Mountain in the northern Japan town of Tono. (Photo by Justin Nobel)

PERFORMANCE: Buried Alive! A Matchbox Theatre
A matchbox theatre performance by Deborah Kaufmann

Dates: Thursday, February 2nd AND Friday February 3rd
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $12
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
*** Audience limited to 25 people per show; first come, first served

“The way each box reveals its tiny inhabitants is entrancing and Deborah Kaufmann… is sweetly enchanting.” – The Village Voice

“Depicted with comic deadpan perversity… a wink and raised eyebrow of an entertainment.” – www.womanaroundtown.com

Buried Alive! a matchbox theatre, is a frightfully funny exploration of our fear of being buried alive and of the curious phenomenon of 19th Century “waiting mortuaries.” Based on historical and medical facts. Tiny, intimate and interactive, full of dreadful discoveries for an adult audience.

BURIED ALIVE! is performed on a tabletop and is constructed entirely in and of matchboxes. It takes advantage of the unique qualities of these tiny stages. Images and characters slide out, slide through, pop up, and drop out of the matchboxes. A merry eccentric matron is your guide. The Nineteenth Century is evoked, but BURIED ALIVE! is creatively anachronistic and plays with scale.

Buried Alive! was inspired by an article entitled, “Pediatric Brain Death,” found in a hospital resident on-call room, and by research into the myths, truths, history and ethics surrounding the true moment of biological death.

Conceived, constructed and performed by Deborah Kaufmann. Kaufmann has delighted audiences in Europe, Australia and across North America with original physical comedy. This year she celebrates 25 years with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program, where she brings the joy of circus to hospitalized children, their families and caregivers. She has been called, “by no means merely cute ... a performer to be trusted, enjoyed and seen” ---nytheatre.com

To be alerted to future events, "like" Morbid Anatomy on Facebook by clicking here or sign up for the Observatory mailer by clicking here. You can find directions to Observatory here and more on all events here. You can find out more about these events by clicking here.

Image: Photo by Jim Moore, 2011

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"WAX": Episode 9 of The Midnight Archive, on the Uncanny Waxworks of Artist Sigrid Sarda

A new episode of The Midnight Archive--the web-based documentary series centered around Observatory--has just been uploaded and can be viewed above. In this episode--entitled "Wax"--we learn about the uncanny waxworks of artist Sigrid Sarda, visit her amazing home studio/private museum, and watch as she launches into a new piece using Midnight Archive director Ronni Thomas as model/subject; fascinating discussions touching on the history of wax, death, magic and The Uncanny ensue. This is one of my favorite Midnight Archives thus far; not to be missed!

The creator of The Midnight Archive--Film-maker and many-time Observatory lecturer Ronni Thomas--says about this episode:
EPISODE 09 - WAX - A long standing obsession of mine has always been wax... I am honored to have someone I genuinely consider a true artist as part of our series - Ms. Sigrid Sarda. From our first meeting I knew we'd have a ton of things to talk about. The charmingly perverse Sarda has taught herself the ancient art of sculpting in wax, and it is every bit as creepy and interesting as you might expect. Her home (where we shot the episode) - is LITTERED with her creations. Its a scene out of one of my all time favorite films "Tourist Trap" minus a creepy cross-dressing Chuck Connors. Take a look at the art behind the wax. Its truly a fascinating medium. And Sig is truly a fascinating artist. Stay tuned, as she is working on a maze called Welcome To Hegemony which is sort of a super speed 'haunted' maze which will feature many of her wax friends - HOPEFULLY including the wax figure she is making of yours truly! Enjoy!
For more on the series, to see former episodes, or to sign up for the mailing list and thus be alerted to future uploads, visit The Midnight Archive website by clicking here. You can also "like" it on Facebook--and be alerted in this way--by clicking here. You can find out more about the amazing work of Sigrid Sarda by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Morbid Anatomy Presents at Observatory Travels to Manhattan with 3-Part "Body as Funhouse Mirror" Lecture Series!

Morbid Anatomy Presents at Observatory is coming to The Big City (New York City, that is), with 3 lectures to be hosted by the Cornelia Street Café, care of our good buddies (and co-Observatarians) The Hollow Earth Society. The theme of the lecture grouping is "Body as Funhouse Mirror," and features past favorite Observatory speakers Amy Herzog, Mark Dery and Sharon Shattuck.

Full details on the series can be found below; hope to see you at one or all three of these great encore lectures!
The Pornographic Arcades Project: Adaptation, Automation, and the Evolution of Times Square (1965-1975)
Amy Herzog
Date: Sunday, January 29
Time: 6:00 PM
Admission: $10

Herzog's talk challenges our notion of what makes a city (sex)—and who constitutes a voyeur: Motion picture “peeping” machines have existed since the birth of cinema, and were often stocked with salacious titles. Public arcades devoted to pornographic peep booths only began to appear in the late 1960s, however, although once established, they proliferated wildly, becoming ubiquitous features in urban landscapes... The Pornographic Arcades Project is a work-in-progress, asking what a study of pornographic peep show arcades might reveal about the cultural imaginary of the late twentieth century.

Amy Herzog is associate professor of media studies and coordinator of the film studies program at Queens College, CUNY. She is the author of Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film. She recently curated "Peeps," an exhibition at The James Gallery, CUNY Graduate Center, on the dialogue between pornographic peep loops and contemporary art practices.

Parasites: A User's Guide
Sharon Shattuck
Date: Sunday, February 26
Time: 6:00 PM
Admission: $10

Parasites challenges the notions of body, friend, inside, and out—and it’s funny! (Not to mention a tad horrific...) The word “parasite” comes with loads of vile connotations, but in nature, nothing is purely good or evil. In the 27-minute experimental documentary Parasites: A User’s Guide, Shattuck embarks on a journey to decode some of the most misunderstood creatures on earth. The dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases, asthma, and allergies since the turn of the last century has confounded scientists, but some researchers think they have uncovered the key to controlling the skyrocketing rates: tiny parasitic worms called helminths... Through the seeming oxymoron of the “helpful parasite,” Sharon questions the nature of our relationship with parasites—and suggests a new paradigm for the future.

Sharon Shattuck is a producer/director/animator with Sweet Fern Productions, the production company she founded. Her previous experience includes work with the Smithsonian Institute, the Field Museum, NPR’s On The Media, and internships with WNYC’s Radiolab, and the BBC World Service/Stakeholder Forum. She has an undergraduate degree in forest ecology and a graduate degree in documentary and broadcast journalism. Her first film, the short Parasites: A User’s Guide (2010), was an official selection of the Traverse City Film Festival, the Camden International Film Festival, the Michigan Film Festival, and the International Science Film Festival. In addition to her work with Sweet Fern, she is a member of the creative team at Wicked Delicate Films.(sweetfernproductions.com / wickedelicate.com)

The Pathological Sublime and The Anatomical Unconscious
Mark Dery
Date: Sunday, April 29
Time: 6:00 PM
Admission: $10

Celebrating the publication of his essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams (University of Minnesota Press), cultural critic and cult author Mark Dery will lecture— with unforgettable slides—on the hallucinatory Crypt of the Cappuchin monks in Rome, the uncanny wax mannequins at La Specola in Florence, and the 19th-century Chinese artist Lam Qua's paintings of patients with eye-poppingly bizarre tumors, which so fascinated Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. that he wrote an article exhorting all “worshipers of morbid anatomy” to see the paintings, a textbook example of what Holmes called “the pathological sublime.” Join Mark for a dark ride through the Pathological Sublime and the Anatomical Unconscious, and pick up a copy of I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, the book Boing Boing called “an intellectual journey through our darkest desires and strangest inclinations.”

Mark Dery is a cultural critic. He is best known for his writings on the politics of popular culture in books such as The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink, Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, Flame Wars, and Culture Jamming. He has been a professor of journalism at New York University, a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Irvine, and a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. His latest book, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, is “a head-spinning intellectual ride through American dreams and American nightmares” and will be available at his Cornelia Street Observatory engagement. (thoughtcatalog.com/author/mark-dery)

If you love Radio Lab, Cabinet magazine, the Surreal, the quirky, and the macabre, you'll definitely dig Cornelia Street Observatory.
All shows are Sunday at 6 PM, tickets are $10. Please RSVP to 212.989.9319. For more, click here.

Image: from the website for Cornelia Street Café.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Museum of Everything is Coming to New York City!

Some of you might remember some not so distant blog posts about the amazing Museum of Everything exhibition in London last year. Well, for those of you who missed that mind-bending spectacle, I have some great news: The Museum of Everything is coming to town, to join in on the festivities of The Outsider Art Fair.

Full details--taken from their newsletter--follow; hope very much to see you at one of these great events!
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26TH – 29TH JANUARY 2012
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Touching down at the Outsider Art Fair is The Shop of Everything, a glamorous boutique selling limited edition books, prints & merchandise created by The Museum of Everything & its artists.

The Shop of Everything will be open for business from the 26th to 29th January, with lithograph prints by George Widener, William Scott & Sir Peter Blake, designer dresses by Clements Ribeiro in collaboration with Atelier der Villa & Creative Growth, four hand-crafted volumes from the museum's European shows, not to mention travel-bags, homeware, casual attire, creative stationary, all discounted for this first foray into the Americas.

Please do not miss this spectacular opportunity to buy a few bits & bobs, shake a few hands & see a few wonderful things. Remember, what we got at The Shop of Everything ain’t available anywhere else ... & here’s another good reason why you should come:

The Outsider Art Fair is where many first discovered the great non-traditional artists of the 20th Century. Yet can this essential creativity still be dismissed as outsider art? These artists are part of our legacy, the form the aesthetic fabric of our universe, they must be celebrated & included, not denigrated & denied. Death to outsider art! Long live the outsiders!

The Museum of Everything
January 2012

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In September & October 2011, The Museum of Everything opened Exhibition #4 at Selfridges of London - the first major survey of work from studios for self-taught artists with learning & other disabilities, & a retrospective of American artist, Judith Scott.

Over 100,000 visitors attended the show & its artists were featured throughout the media. During the Frieze Art Fair 2011, Intelligence Squared hosted a debate at The Museum of Everything with some of the leading artists, thinkers & curators in Britain: Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern; Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery; artists Antony Gormley & Alice Anderson; Tom di Maria, director of Creative Growth; Roger Cardinal, art historian & creator of the term "outsider art" & Jon Snow, Britain's leading television interviewer & host of Channel 4 News.

The question presented to the panel was: if someone creates work which we call a work of art, yet that same person cannot conceive of it as a work of art, then what is it - art or something else? Find out what they said in the premiere of the film Is It Art?, screening exclusively at the Outsider Art Fair.

Intelligence Squared presents Is It Art?
(60 mins) 2011

2:00pm on Friday 27th January 2012
Outsider Art Fair

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Narrated live by James Brett, founder of The Museum of Everything, The Films of Everything present an illustrated history of the museum, from its critically heralded opening at the Frieze Art Fair 2009, right up to its most recent installation at Selfridges of London.

Included in the talk will be films recording the museum’s projects at Tate Modern and with Sir Peter Blake, as well as those featured in Exhibition #4, revealing self-taught artists in studios across Europe, plus the BBC2 segment on celebrated American artist Judith Scott.

The films & talk will be followed by a Q+A discussion on the museum's growing visibility on the international stage, as well as projects in African, Russian and Middle Eastern pipelines.

The Films of Everything
(90 mins) 2009-11
Premiere Screening & Talk

5:30pm on Friday 27th January 2012
Outsider Art Fair

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Find out what it takes to be an accumulator of accumulations, as leading European collectors Bruno Decharme of abcd Paris & James Brett of The Museum of Everything share war stories with American collector Lawrence Benenson & describe the ins & outs of amassing work by some of the overlooked creators in the history of modern art.

Moderated by art historian & curator Valérie Rousseau, the talk will take the form of a discussion panel & might degenerate into a wrestling match.

Collecting Obsession
Discussion Panel

6:00pm on Saturday 28th January 2012
Outsider Art Fair
More can be found here and here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Philippe Verheyen Dissecting His Amputated Limb, ca. 1715

Philippe Verheyen (1648-1711) Dissecting His Amputated Limb

By an anonymous artist, ca. 1715. Postmortem painting in honor of a famous Dutch anatomist and surgeon.

Medium: Oil on Panel. Size: 16.3”X16.5”

From the collection of Pieter Deheijde.
Image and text via 100% Spleen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Anatomical Venuses, The Slashed Beauty, and Fetuses Dancing a Jig," Morbid Anatomy Lecture, The Velaslavasay Panorama, Los Angeles, Feb. 9

For those of you in the greater Los Angeles area: I would love to see you next month at at one of my very favorite Los Angeles attractions--The Velaslavasay Panorama--where I will be giving a lecture entitled "Anatomical Venuses, The Slashed Beauty, and Fetuses Dancing a Jig: A Journey into the Curious World of the Medical Museum." The images above--drawn from my recent photo exhibitions The Secret Museum and Anatomical Theatre--constitute a tiny sampling of the many images I will be showing in the presentation.

Full details follow; very much hope very much to see you there.
Anatomical Venuses, The Slashed Beauty, and Fetuses Dancing a Jig:
A Journey into the Curious World of the Medical Museum
An Illustrated Lecture by Joanna Ebenstein

The Velaslavasay Panorama
1122 West 24th Street, Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, February 9th, 2012
8 o’clock PM
Tickets $10 {$8 VPES Members, Students, Seniors}
Advance Tickets Available here:

The Velaslavasay Panorama welcomes photographer and researcher Joanna Ebenstein, who will be here Thursday, February 9th at 8 pm to present an illustrated lecture entitled Anatomical Venuses, The Slashed Beauty, and Fetuses Dancing a Jig: A Journey into the Curious World of the Medical Museum. Abounding with images and insight, Ms. Ebenstein’s lecture will introduce you to the Medical Museum and its curious denizens, from the Anatomical Venus to the Slashed Beauty, the allegorical fetal skeleton tableau to the taxidermied bearded lady, the flayed horseman of the apocalypse to the three fetuses dancing a jig. Ebenstein will discuss the history of medical modeling, survey the great artists of the genre, and examine the other death-related arts and amusements which made up the cultural landscape at the time that these objects were originally created, collected, and exhibited.

Joanna Ebenstein is a New York-based artist and independent researcher. She runs the popular Morbid Anatomy Blog and the related Morbid Anatomy Library, where her privately held cabinet of curiosities and research library are made available by appointment. Her work has been shown and published internationally, and she has lectured at museums and conferences around the world. For more information, visit http://morbidanatomy.blogspot.com

Tickets available here. You can find out more about the panorama (one of my favorite spots in LA! highly recommended!) by clicking here.

Images top to bottom, as drawn from my recent photo exhibitions The Secret Museum and Anatomical Theatre:
  1. "Anatomical Venus" Wax wodel with human hair and pearls in rosewood and Venetian glass case, "La Specola" (Museo di Storia Naturale), Florence, Italy, Probably modeled by Clemente Susini (around 1790)
  2. "Slashed Beauty" Wax wodel with human hair and pearls in rosewood and Venetian glass case, "La Specola" (Museo di Storia Naturale), Florence, Italy, Probably modeled by Clemente Susini (around 1790)
  3. "Anatomical Venuses," Wax Models with human hair in rosewood and Venetian glass cases,The Josephinum, Workshop of Clemente Susini of Florence circa 1780s, Vienna, Austria
  4. The Mütter Museum : Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pathological model; 19th Century?
  5. Wax Model of Eye Surgery, Musée Orfila, Paris. Courtesy Université Paris Descartes
  6. Wax Anatomical Models in Rosewood and Venetian Glass Boxes, The Josephinum, Workshop of Clemente Susini of Florence circa 1780s, Vienna, Austria
  7. Wax moulages; Probably by Carl Henning (1860-1917) or Theodor Henning (1897-1946); Early 20th Century; Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum (Pathologisch-anatomisches Bundesmuseum): Vienna, Austria, Austria
  8. Plaster Models in Pathological Cabinet, The Museum of the Faculty of Medicine at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow
  9. Skeleton and hand models for "la médecine opératoire" Musée Orfila, Paris. Courtesy Université Paris Descartes

Gabba Gabba Hey! Ramones Night at Observatory TONIGHT, Friday January 13 at 8:00

Tonight at Observatory! Hope to see you there.

Gabba Gabba Hey! Ramones Night at Observatory
A screening of End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones
out-takes and Q&A with filmmakers Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia and John Gramaglia
Date: Friday, January 13th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

In 2003, the documentary End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones was released to great critical and popular acclaim after much legal finagling with The Ramones and their managers. On Friday the 13th of January, join the team behind the film--directors Jim Field and Michael Gramaglia and editor John Gramaglia--for an evening that takes up where the film left off. The night will feature screenings of numerous out-takes from the film, as well as anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of getting the film made. Following that, the team will take questions from the audience.

Jim Fields is a doc filmmaker and co-director of "EOTC" with Michael Gramaglia. He's currently a staff video journalist for Time.com.

Michael Gramaglia is a filmmaker living in Queens. His current project is a feature film about Graham Parker.

John Gramaglia is a freelance editor for documentaries and TV commercials.

More on Observatory can be found here. To sign up for events on Facebook, join our group by clicking here. To sign up for our weekly mailer, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Death In The Closet: The Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn Breaks Today’s Taboos," The Toronto Standard

Once, walking back from school, I found a dead sparrow and took it home with me. My mom screamed when she found it lying on the floor of my pink-and-white bedroom. The bird was buried in the backyard.

Joanna Ebenstein did the same thing when she was growing up, but her dad gave her a bottle of formaldehyde and her bedroom filled with animals in jars. Her collection has only grown since then, becoming what’s now the Morbid Anatomy Library: a cramped studio in Brooklyn, New York, filled with emu feet, mummified frogs, a human skeleton, and books upon books about death, medicine and science...

--"Death In The Closet: The Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn Breaks Today’s Taboos," Laura Trethewey, The Toronto Standard
You can read the whole nuanced, thoughtful and spot-on piece--one of my favorite articles yet written about the Morbid Anatomy Library--by clicking here. You can find out more about the Morbid Anatomy Library by clicking here.

Photos: Installation views of the Morbid Anatomy Library by Shannon Taggart.

Morbid Anatomy Library Open Hours This Saturday!

This Saturday--January 14--the Morbid Anatomy Library (seen above) will be hosting open, no-appointment-necessary drop in hours from 2 until 6 PM. So feel free to drop in for a perusal of the stacks and to meet our latest addition.

For more about the Morbid Anatomy Library and for directions and other such information, click here.

Photo of The Library by Shannon Taggart

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Object Migration" Opening Reception, Proteus Gowanus, Tomorrow Night (January 12), 7pm

I have gotten a sneak peek of the new exhibition "Object Migration" at Proteus Gowanus, which officially opens with a reception tomorrow night at 7 PM. From what I have seen thus far, this is a pretty exciting exhibition, a real ode to material culture with lots of intrigue and surprises. Hope to see you at the opening, for which full details follow:
Proteus Gowanus
Thursday, January 12
543 Union Street Brooklyn

Join us for wine and conversation at the opening of the Object Migration exhibition. This show is a transitory museum of terrestrial transitions with over 50 objects and their migratory stories brought to us by you, our friends and collaborators. Some objects speak of intensely intimate moments while others tell geologic tales of perfect indifference.

When we think about migration (as we have been doing all year), we tend to focus on people and creatures, the mobile inhabitants of the planet. But life and motion create products and byproducts: tools, waste, the implements of culture. These are often the things that drive us onward in our migrations. Their stories are ineluctably connected with our own. At the points where our stories intersect with objects, much is revealed, not only about our personal trajectories but also about our precarious relationship with the environment.

We sent out the following message: “Do you have an object whose story you would like to share? An heirloom, an artwork, a toothbrush, a stone? An object which has inspired you, dominated you, educated you, exalted or degraded you? For our second exhibition of the Migration year, we invite you to lend us your object and include with it everything you know about it. We are especially interested in the part of the story that is the object’s alone: it’s history as material, as an economic entity, as waste, or as the impetus for other migratory tales.”

This query brought us over 50 objects which are the jumping off point for a three-month exploration of Object Migrations.

The objects on display range from a 50 million year old “dinosaur fart” (or gas bubble) to a collection of wild bird’s stomach contents collected in the early 20th C for “scientific” purposes. There are also talismans, mundane objects with secret meanings, things of beauty and much more.

We will view them as independent beings with stories of their own, stories that began before the object’s encounter with its current owner and that will likely continue long after they part. The stories may migrate into the economic, the industrial, the political, the historical, the geologic, the environmental and so on as visitors add to the stories on display with information they may have about the object in question.
    More can be found here.

    "Hypnotik: The Seer Will Doctor You Now," Directed by Ildiko Nemeth, Through January 15

    In an intimate theater, a showman clairvoyant brings his subjects to the stage and promises his audience a spectacle of “raw shame.” One by one he entrances his chosen ones, leading them to reveal their most abject and malignant drives. But when no redemptive moment follows, the audacious seer must confront his own worst visions.
    Loosely based on the story of Erik Jan Hanussen, Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant (as detailed in a book by the the amazing Mel Gordon), this play, directed by Ildiko Nemeth, is a subtle, troubling and thought-provoking meditation on entertainment, shame, and hubris in decadent times. With gorgeous costumes evoking a kind of space-age 1930s, inventive staging that achieves--with minimal resources--a true and creepy uncanniness at times, and excellent acting, this is a really a really fascinating piece that transcends its limitations and lingers with you.

    You can find out more--and buy tickets--by clicking here. You can find out more about Mel Gordon's book by clicking here.

    Image: Photo by Markus Hirnigel, Collage by Jessica Sofia Mitrani

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    “The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini," Lecture by Rebecca Messbarger, New York Academy of Medicine, Jan. 19

    Next Thursday, Rebecca Messbarger--author of the lovely and fascinating The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini--will be speaking at The New York Academy of Medicine about the life and work of this rare 18th century female anatomist and master wax modeller, whose wax self portrait--where she depicts herself in the act of dissecting a brain!--you see above.

    Full details below; very much hope to see you there!
    “The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini”
    The 2012 Malloch Circle Lecture and Reception
    Date: January 19, 2012
    Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

    Speaker(s): Rebecca Messbarger, PhD, Associate Professor of Italian, Washington University
    Location: The New York Academy of Medicine
    1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029

    The Malloch Circle, a special group of friends who are interested in the history of medicine and support the historical programs at NYAM, is hosting a lecture about Anna Morandi Manzolini, an illustrious 18th century anatomical modeler. This is a special introduction to the Malloch Circle, whose members are invited to dinner events featuring presentations of historical and bibliographic interest, exhibitions of relevant notable rare books, and private behind the scenes tour of the Rare Book Room.

    Anna Morandi Manzolini was an illustrious 18th century anatomical modeler who, with her husband, Giovanni Manzolini, held anatomy lessons in their Bologna home. The artistry and accuracy of her wax models made her widely known as a leader in the field, and brought powerful supporters, including the Royal Society of London, Doge Moccenigo of Venice, and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. Long forgotten, her story has been disinterred and developed through the research of Dr. Rebecca Messbarger. Professor Messbarger earned her PhD from the University of Chicago. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society. She is director of undergraduate studies in Italian, founder and co-convener of the 18th Century Interdisciplinary Salon, and an executive board member of the Society for 18th Century Studies. Her most recent book The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini, examines the details of Morandi’s remarkable life, tracing her intellectual trajectory from provincial artist to internationally renowned anatomical wax modeler for the University of Bologna’s famous medical school.

    The Friends of the Rare Book Room is a special group of contributors who for sixty years have supported public programs in the history of medicine, the acquisition and cataloging of historical scholarly material, and activities that make the Malloch Rare Book Room a center for scholarship in the history of medicine and public health and for the study of books and printing. The Malloch Circle is composed of special Friends of the Rare Book Room who support this work at a level of $1,000 annually. The Malloch Circle is named for Archibald Malloch, a protege of William Osler, who served as the Academy's Librarian from 1926 to 1949. The continuing support of the Malloch Circle will dramatically improve the library's efforts to enhance its collections through full cataloguing and archival processing, digitization, and conservation treatment. The Malloch Circle meets several times a year for dinner and conversation, with special presentations of bibliographical and historical interest, and for private tours of notable rare book collections.

    Registration Information
    Cost: $35
    You can find out more--and order tickets!--by clicking here. To find out more about Rebecca Messbarger's book The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini, click here.

    Image: Wax self-portrait of 18th-century wax modeler and anatomist Anna Morandi Manzolini dissecting a human brain; Palazzo Poggi, Bologna; found here.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Theosophy, Spiritualism and Grand Central Station: Part 2 of Occult NYC with Mitch Horowitz on The Midnight Archive

    A new episode of The Midnight Archive--the web-based documentary series centered around Observatory--has just been uploaded and can be viewed above. In this episode, we continue our occult tour of New York City with Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation and leader of our popular Observatory Occult Walking Tour. Part one of this piece can be viewed here.

    Film maker Ronni Thomas--the creator of The Midnight Archive--has this to say about the episode:
    EPISODE 08 : Occult NYC part 2 -- We return to NYC as Mitch Horowitz, Author of Occult America, takes us to some of the more mysterious places in this fine city. We'll learn about Madame Blavatsky's midtown occult salon, get some insight into Grand Central's mystic design, and in my case at least - become acquainted with the occult stylings of Fred F. French. Make sure to keep aware of Mitch's walking tour which is hosted by The Brooklyn Observatory and Pam Grossman. And don't forget to pick up Mitch's book at amazon.com.
    For more on the series, to see former episodes, or to sign up for the mailing list so as to be alerted to future uploads, visit The Midnight Archive website by clicking here. You can also "like" it on Facebook--and thus be alerted--by clicking here.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    "Lunation: Art on the Moon" Opening Party, Observatory, This Saturday, January 7

    This Saturday at Observatory we will he hosting the opening party for Lunation, our first group-curated show. Admission is free, and the art will be intriguingly wide-ranging. I have a few pieces in the show, as do many other familiar faces.

    Full details follow; hope very much to see you there!

    Art on the Moon
    Observatory's first group-curated show • January 7 – February 26, 2012

    Opening Party: This Saturday, January 7th, 7–10 PM, FREE
    Closing Party/Observatory's 3rd Anniversary Fundraiser: Saturday, February 18th, 8 PM/$20
    Show Viewing Hours: Thursday & Friday 3–6 PM, Saturday & Sunday 12–6 PM

    Artists and scientists have always been attracted to the moon...
    Our closest celestial neighbor, the earth’s little sister, the moon creates the tides and illuminates the woods at night. For centuries, humanity believed the moon provided a key into the invisible realm: it called out the beast within us, freeing us to act as wolves, to run, to dance, to chant—and sometimes (as in Duncan Jones’ Moon) to split in two, to find our double, our changeling moon-self.

    Is the moon home to life? Today we know it isn’t, but even as of 1830, speculation was rampant that the moon was inhabited by Christianized bat-people who worshiped in great ziggurats. (See The Sun and the Moon by Observatory alumnus Matthew Goodman for details.) Still, life comes to the moon. We know the moon contains frozen water, and we dream of using it as our jumping-off point for visiting even more alien vistas.

    Down here, despite all the prowess and nuance of our latest telescopes, earthlings still look up naked-eyed with excitement at the full moon. Lovers and children gaze up at its slowly blinking façade in mute wonder. Artists portray the moon as a source of danger and power, and latter-day sorceresses and men of magic call up to that heavenly lamp, seeking to transcend the ordinary night. For them, the old myths have not changed so much: the moon is still a secret mirror, showing in pale light how the familiar contains always an element of the unexpected...

    Artists Included

    LUNATION Dates to Save:

    • Sat., Jan. 7 – LUNATION opening! Come drink wine with us and celebrate the many phases/faces of the moon—including ones you've never seen before
    • Sat., Jan. 22 – Moon Magick ritual workshop presented by Pam Grossman of Phantasmaphile
    • Friday, Feb. 17: The Moon and Its Closest Inhabitants: A 3D Slideshow with 3D Legend Gerald Marks
    • Sat., Feb. 18 – 3rd Anniversary Observatory Fundraiser Party: Help support your favorite interdisciplinarian art, science, & occult event space!
    You can find out more about Observatory--including directions--by clicking here.

    Monday, January 2, 2012


    Not sure where what the provenance is for this animated gif, but I kind of love it. Click on image to see larger version.

    Via The Neo Shaman Tumblr.

    Original Ellis Island Magic Lantern Slides from AMNH at Observatory Tomorrow Night!

    Tomorrow night, Proteus Gowanus and Morbid Anatomy present at Observatory! Hope to see you there.
    Projection of Original Ellis Island Lantern Slides from the Collection of The American Museum of Natural History & Meredith Monk Screening
    Tuesday, January 3, 2012, 8pm
    Observatory, 543 Union Street (enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)
    Brooklyn, NY 11215

    Tomorrow night, join Proteus Gowanus and The Morbid Anatomy Library for a projection of original lantern slides of Ellis Island immigrants from the collection of the American Museum of Natural History presented by Barbara Mathe, head of special collections at the museum library. Following, we will view a special screening of Meredith Monk’s short film, ‘Ellis Island’ (1981), performed and filmed in the island’s ruins before the start of renovations for the Ellis Island Museum, which opened in 1990. Ellis Island was the gateway for the majority of immigrants to the United States, processing over 12 million immigrants from 1892 until 1954.
    More--including directions--can be found here.

    Image: Ellis Island Portraits - Lapland children, possibly from Sweden; Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906-1914]; Source: William Williams papers / Photographs of immigrants (more info); found here.