The Modern Spirit Is Vivisective by Francesca Catastini, edited and with a text by the Photocaptionist, 2016
With The Modern Spirit is Vivisective Francesca Catastini embarks on a visceral and cutting-edge journey inside the human body, to explore anecdotes and unmask misleading beliefs behind the study of Anatomy in the past. The ancient anatomical theatres are her starting point. The lost functionality of these spaces, suspended in a remote limbo between the carnality of death and the quest for knowledge, leads her to embrace dissection and vivisection, metaphorically, as an aesthetic performance. Presented as an eclectic cabinet of curiosities, her austere yet ironical images merge and mingle with found photographs of old anatomy labs and blind students’ archives, with appropriated frontispieces of Renaissance Anatomy manuals and quirky illustrations. Together, these materials form a telescopic structure divided into overlapping sections, each relating to the various actions involved in every dissection: looking, touching, cutting and discovering.
The Photocaptionist, in close collaboration with the artist, worked on the structure, editing, sequencing, title and main design elements to produce a book dummy. We also wrote the Postscript and presented the project as a portfolio with an accompanying essay in Photoworks issue 22 on Women in Photography, 2015.
Once the book was ready we organised an international tour of presentations in Europe at the beautiful Viasaterna Gallery in Milan (November 2016) and The Photographers’ Gallery in London (January 2017).
After its official launch in October 2016 at the Anzeberger Gallery in Vienna, the author also presented it in Bari in April 2017 at the F.project School and, in June 2017, she returned to Vienna, invited to give a Lecture at the ViennaPhotoBook Festival.
The book – and the project in general – was positively welcomed. After our feature in Photoworks in 2015 it was presented in Co-Curate Magazine #01 in February 2016, we published it here on our website in July 2016, Gerry Badger wrote a fantastic review for issue 23 of 1000 Words Photography Magazine and Tim Clark selected it as his top 10 photobooks of 2016 for the same magazine.
The book was also selected by Mariama Attah among her Personal Favourites for LensCulture, 2016 Photobooks of the Year. Taco Hidde Bakker brilliantly reviewed it for the magazine Camera Austria, issue 137, March 2017.
in June 2017 the Royal Academy of Arts featured it in its magazine and in July of the same year an image from the project appeared in Der Greif #10 and Catastini was the guest artist for a week on their blog.
The project has been exhibited internationally both as an installation and as a display of the book. The book was part of a series of exhibitions curated by archipelago (Magali Avezou): Burning with Pleasure, Matèria Gallery, Rome, December 2016, Ouvrage, Twenty 14 Contemporary, Milan and Between the Lines, Roz Barr Gallery, London, October 2016.
In May 2017, The Modern Spirit Is Vivisective had its first solo show at Galleria Parmeggiani, as part of Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia.
Athens Photo Festival, in June 2017, featured an installation of the project as part of the collective exhibition Fluid Body and presented the book in the Photobook Exhibition, both in the Benaki Museum in Athens.
In October 2017, it was part of the exhibition NUCLEUS: Imagining Science at Noorderlicht Photofestival in Groningen.
In December 2017, The Modern Spirit Is Vivisective had another solo show at MACRO Factory, in Rome as part of Emerging Talents.
In March 2018 it was selected by the jury of Festival Circulations and showed at CENTQUATRE-PARIS.