Body Archives class in Vienna
March 17 – 20, 2016
As part of the Body Archives class, and in the context of a dialogue on cooperation between SACI and Danube University Krems, six SACI students lead by professor Dejan Atanackovic traveled to Vienna in the period of March 17-20. The field trip program was designed by Atanackovic and Devon Schiller, Department of Image Science at DUK. Schiller, also a SACI alum, visited SACI prior to the trip where he held an introductory talk, and proceeded to provide educational and logistic support during the group’s stay in Vienna.
The objective of the program was to address the examples of representation of the human body in diverse historical moments and areas of knowledge – history of art, anthropology, psychoanalysis, medical anatomy and pathology – and through an interdisciplinary approach provide interpretation keys towards an understanding of their contemporary relevance.
Particular attention was given to the historical links between Florence and Vienna, such as in the case of the Josephinum, medical university collection of anatomical wax models created in 18th and 19th century workshops of the Florentine La Specola.
SACI students visited the Narrenturm, a peculiar architectural structure of the first psychiatric hospital, built in the late 1700’s by the demand of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II, now a museum of pathological anatomy.
At the Sigmund Freud Museum students followed a narrative path through the rooms of Freud’s home and studio, and visited the museum’s library.
At the Museum of Natural History – initiated by an acquisition of a Florentine scientific collection in 1750 – students viewed the paleonthological, mineral and zoological sections, including many examples of high-tech practices of museal display.
The MUMOK temporary exhibition Körper/Korpus offered an excellent curatorial analyses of the (psychoanalytically determined) parallels between early 20th century anxiety – in the works of Schiele, Oppenheimer, Kokoschka, Gerstl – and the disquiet Actionists’ art of the late 1960’s, represented by Schwarzkogler, Nitsch and Brus, among others.
During the entire trip, students had a task to keep a visual and narrative diary, the result of which will be a part of the end-of-semester Body Archives exhibition at the Florentine Museum of Anthropology.
The Body Archives class at SACI focuses on observation, study and creative response to the body-related iconographic context in Florence. It proposes an introduction to scientific museum collections that, since the 1700s, formed our ideas about body and identity that had its consequences throughout the 20th century and in our time.
Photo credits: Devon Schiller and Dejan Atanackovic