Revelations: Iconographie de La Salpêtrière
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Publisher: Editorial RM
Edited by Javier Viver.
The Iconographie de La Salpêtrière is one of the first photographic archives in the field of clinical psychiatry.
Under the direction of Jean-Martin Charcot, and financed by the French government, this archive constituted an effort to catalogue the unclassifiable through new photographic-documentary techniques. The realm of the marginal was subject to dissection at La Salpêtrière – it was systematically measured, documented and classified. In this operation, however, the use of photography fostered the incorporation of spectacle and, with it, an entire network of complicities between patients and photographers. The spectacle of La Salpêtrière became a variety show at every Tuesday session, placed out in front of a representative sampling of cultural and scientific elites, through the induction of contortions by hypnosis, epileptic seizures, and fits of hysteria, and the registry and exhibition of cabinets of curiosities, biological rarities, freaks, and other phenomena.