blanche

Our collection illustrates the weird and intimite role technology plays in our life. (…)

Installations with theremin
[year] 2017
[collaboration] Merle Sibbel
[dimensions] 400 x 1000 mm
[exposition] S/ASH GA\\ERY ROTTERDAM

The Theremin is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the performer. Together with Merle Sibbel I explored making and using the theremin. This resulted in a series of antennes to put through and around the body. Our collection illustrates the weird and intimite role technology plays in our life.

In the 1870s Blanche found herself a patient in the hysteria ward of Salpêtrière hospital in Paris under direction of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Every week eager crowds arrived at the hospital to attend Charcot’s demonstrations of hysterics acting out their hysterical symptoms. Blanche can be described as both, victim and enchanter, of these plays.

This antenna, inspired by Blanche, is the first in an experimental antenna collection to be played with the theremin. The antenna, piercing the nipples, has the same paradoxale quality as Blanche. When first played it feels strangly wrong. At the same time it invites to be played a second time, to be exploited.

“As Paul Regnard, a student of Charcot writes“We can cut them, prick them, and burn them, and they feel nothing. Even better these completely numb spots are so poorly irrigated that when we wound them, there is not one drop of blood. The hysterics are very proud of this immunity and amuse themselves by passing long needles through their arms and legs.” In the engraving below, Blanche appears to have been transformed into an object from a flesh and blood woman into a doll.” // Medical muses, Hysterica in nineteenth century paris by Asti Hustvedt.