SACI’s Body Archives class recently visited the Museum of Natural History “La Specola” in Florence for the second time. Hosted by Emanuele Paggetti, they toured through the Hall of the Skeletons, the Torrino Astronomico, and the Poccianti Corridor where they came in contact with bones, jars of curiosities, and telescopes of grand scale. The students were able to take photographs and make sketches for their course work.
The course begins with the ambiguous anatomical gaze inside the body of the 1700s, and its relation to the concepts of the beauty and the sublime. This includes a visit to the Museum of Natural History La Specola, Museum of Anatomy and Biomedical Collection.
The second phase is dedicated to the early anthropological “photographic truth,” in particular the study of modern identity of the colonial times through its relation to the socially, culturally and ethnically diverse (the “savage”). This phase of the course leads the class into the photographic archive of the Museum of Anthropology and will include meetings with the experts of the museum, as well as potentially an opportunity to scan, preserve and archive original 19th-century photographs and negatives. The theme of otherness may also be approached through meetings with experts in social integration and creative therapy work with psychiatric patients (theater, painting, writing).
The third and the fourth phases will include the observation of consequences of the pseudo-scientific gaze in 20th-century art, from 1930s totalitarian regimes to the contemporary responses in various fields of culture and art dealing with the theme of disappearing and replacement of the body with signs.