2017-2018 Mechthild Fend: Order and Affect: The Museum of Dermatological Wax Moulages at the Hôpital Saint Louis in Paris

 

(This event took place on Tuesday, 10 October 2017.)

This talk will address the collection of dermatological wax moulages at the Hôpital Saint Louis in Paris, arguably the largest remaining collection of its kind, still on display in its purpose-built late nineteenth-century setting. The moulages, made on the basis of imprints taken from diseased bodies and showing severe affections in an extremely lifelike manner, prompt and prompted affective responses. Simultaneously, the multiple – at times almost excessive – framing of these waxen simulacra and their systematic ordering induces a more rational, studious approach.

This paper mobilises these objects to critically engage with notions of agency, and propose an approach that takes into account the history of casting as well as the materiality and symbolism of the medium wax, its link with religious traditions as well as the cognitive and diagnostic potential of these medial images.

Mechthild Fend is a Reader in History of Art at University College London.

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