Lunar Women is a second intervention in the medical archive of photographs of female patients at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris taken in the second half of the 19th century. The Hospital, famous at the time for its study on hysteria in women under doctor Charcot, had its own photographic studio where ‘incurable women’ were repeatedly photographed in specific poses and subsequently exposed to seeing and re-enacting aspects of the produced visual material.
In the archival photographs women are captured in dramatic poses – their bodies are twisted, in convulsions or contortions. Given how static their convulsing bodies look in these images and how long it took to expose a photograph at the time it’s clear that the medics must have aided themselves with the use of constraint, props and drugs in the Hospital’s photographic studio.
In Lunar Women the process of erasing the male gaze goes further. The cut out bodies of female patients from the archival images are placed on chemigrams made on expired photographic paper, creating unpredictable and unconstrained environment which makes the final performative act of walking out of the medical photographic studio possible.