Phantom Bodies: Photographs by Tanya Marcuse

Tuesday September 29, 2015 - Sunday December 13, 2015

Closed October 24–27 and November 23–29

Phantom Bodies: Photographs by Tanya Marcuse

Tanya Marcuse (American, born 1964). Wax Bodies No. 187, 2007, pigment print. Copyright © Tanya Marcuse. Courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery.

The exhibition Phantom Bodies: Photographs by Tanya Marcuse brought together haunting works evoking absent bodies, created in two series, Undergarments and Armor (2002–2004) and Wax Bodies (2006–2008).

For Undergarments and Armor, Marcuse traveled to archives and museums in the United States and England, where she photographed breastplates, helmets, corsets, bustles, mannequins, and the dress forms that populate storerooms. Seen together, these platinum prints suggest opposing categories: armor/underwear, male/female, hard/soft, armed/disarmed, presence/absence. These empty garments recall the unruly human bodies that were once contained and protected, and the ways in which gender was constructed and performed. The bodies have turned to dust, but the armor and the underwear remain as memento mori.

For Wax Bodies, Marcuse photographed the 18th-century Italian anatomical models in two little-known museum collections, La Specola in Florence and the Josephinum in Vienna. Referred to as “phantom bodies,” these wax models were made to teach new scientific knowledge of anatomy, childbirth, and disease. With her subtle images, Marcuse explores the tension between the Enlightenment ideal of objective science and the artistry and rapture of the Baroque.

Tanya Marcuse received an MFA from Yale University and has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, among other honors. She has published three books with Nazraeli Press: Undergarments and Armor (2005), Fruitless (2007), and Wax Bodies (2012). Marcuse’s photographs are included in numerous museum collections including those of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the George Eastman House. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the International Center for Photography in New York, the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, and the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She is represented by Julie Saul Gallery, New York, where she recently had a solo exhibition, Fallen.

Gallery hours

Artist's Talk and Opening Reception

Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 5:00 pm
Artist’s talk by Tanya Marcuse, 5:00 pm, CFA Hall
Reception followed at the DAC Gallery until 7:00 pm
Free of charge and open to the public

Panel Discussion: Body, Memory, Photography

Thursday, October 29, 5:00 pm
Russell House, 350 High Street
Free of charge and open to the public
Panel discussion of the intersections between medical and scientific representations of anatomy, gender, and photographic practice.
Speakers: Tanya Marcuse, photographer. Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Wesleyan University Chair and Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Professor of Sociology and Science in Society. Jennifer Tucker, Wesleyan University Associate Professor of History, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Environmental Studies, and Science in Society, and Senior Research Fellow, Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Laura Wexler, Yale University Professor of American Studies, Professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Co-Chair of the Public Humanities Program at Yale, Director of the Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale, and Principal Investigator of The Photogrammar Project (