On Sept. 29, Artist Tanya Marcuse, at left, spoke about her exhibit, “Phantom Bodies,” on display at the Davison Art Center through Dec. 19. Pictured at right is DAC Curator Clare Rogan.
“Phantom Bodies” brings together unique photographs taken in two parts, Undergarments (2002-2004) and Wax Bodies (2006-2008). This exhibit sets out to explore the idea of the absence of the human body in various forms and how different cultures and time periods had different ways of presenting the human body.
Undergarments and Armor are photos of breastplates, helmets, corsets, bustles, mannequins and dress forms taken by Marcuse in archives and museums across the U.S and England. “I portray these garments and suits of armor as sculptures of the body, carapaces that have outlasted their wearers. Where they once adorned, constricted and protected their wearers, they are now archived as artifacts, the shells of those who once inhabited them,” she said.
For the subsequent series, Wax Bodies, Marcuse photographed the 18th-century Italian anatomical models in two little museum collections, La Specola in Florence and the Josephinum in Vienna. She notes that it was intriguing to analyze the differences in the models from Italy versus Vienna—“the Italian women have olive complexions and lush brown hair, while the Viennese are pale, blue-eyed and blond, and wear golden circlets.” With her subtle images, Marcuse explores the tension between the Enlightenment ideal of objective science and the artistry and rapture of the Baroque.
Marcuse received an MFA from Yale University and has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, among other honors. Marcuse’s photographs are included in numerous museum collections including those of the Corcoran Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale; and the Library of Congress.
The Davison Art Center Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The gallery is open to the public free of charge. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)