Nathalie Joffre

 

after henry hering


After Henry Hering. Two studies
(2012)

Single-channel, projection. 3'21. Color, sound. Dimensions variable.
Text by the artist and extracts from ‘The Physiognomy of Insanity’ by John Conolly (1858).

The starting point of the video After Henry Hering. Two studies is an archival collection of mental patients photographs taken by Henry Hering between 1857 and 1859 for the Bethlem Royal Hospital. The work explores the process of photographic archives’ appropriation and perception confronting still image, moving image and sound. Through restaging two photographs from Hering’s collection accompanied with a voice-over mixing sound and extracts from ‘The Physiognomy of Insanity’ by John Conolly (1858), the artist also questions the history of the photographic medium, as a mean for human classification. How can these medical archives, first used by Professor Conolly to build a physiognomic classification of mental illnesses, be questioned and appropriated today?