ROLL UP, ROLL UP !
AN ANATOMICAL WAXWORK CABINET MEETS ART
11 October 2014 through 28 June 2015
The exhibition is not suitable for children under the age of 14.
The starting point – and focal point – of the current special exhibition entitled Roll up! Roll up! is a historical anatomical waxwork cabinet which was originally created, for the most part, in Dresden around 1900 and is now to go on show in a museum setting for the first time. For over a hundred years, models of the human body such as these were showcased at funfairs and fairgrounds: for purposes of health education on the one hand and, on the other, as mass-appeal entertainment aimed at large sections of the population.
In 2009 the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum succeeded in acquiring this collection with the support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder [Cultural Foundation of the German Länder]; it is precious not only in terms of cultural history, but of the history of science too. The Sammlung Anatomisches Panoptikum (to quote the collection’s German title) is comprised of some 250 exhibits, making it one of the few collections on this scale still in existence today. A comprehensive programme of conservation and restoration measures has since been implemented in order to preserve the exhibits. The range of topics covered by the Dresden waxwork cabinet is compelling: from general anatomy to sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases, to industrial accidents and wounds sustained at war. As such it provides revealing insights into the way in which the human body, society, and the morals of the day were perceived in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
To illustrate not just the historical aspect, but also the topicality of the issues associated with the collection, the waxworks are being contrasted with works by leading artists of the more recent past which also focus on the human body. The relationships between observer and exhibit that inform and guide our knowledge and cognition are showcased at different levels in the works of, among many others, Louise Bourgeois, Alexandra Bircken, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Robert Gober, Damien Hirst, Mike Kelley, Zoë Leonard, Paul McCarthy, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, Pipilotti Rist, Pia Stadtbäumer, Paul Thek, and Luc Tuymans.
The individual artistic approaches to the human body touch on central motifs that will certainly be felt by the visitors to the historical waxwork cabinet as they consider its exhibits: What goes on inside us when we look at representations of the human body? What sort of notions of ourselves as human beings, what sort of assessments of ourselves, come into play? What sensations? What roles do curiosity and voyeurism play – or, for that matter, gender and identity, repulsion and compassion, life and death, presence and distance, knowledge and fantasy?
Curator: Eva Meyer-Hermann, Berlin
Scenography: Sonja Beeck and Detlef Weitz
Production management: Ines Linder
Exhibition architecture: Hans Hagemeister
Exhibition graphics: Vanessa Wolf
Audio backdrops: Patricia Schon
Project Team: Cornelia Wagner, Isabel Dzierson
Research assistance: Milka Backović, Krystina Comer, Fine Kugler, Siw Krueger, Alexandra Lay, Sophia Schäfer, Valeria Schäfer, Anna-Lena Wenzel
Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Collection: Susanne Roeßiger (Head of Department), Julia Radtke, Johanna Lang, Marita Gottsmann, Sylke Schäfer, Marion Schneider, Marion Thalheim
Restoration: Johanna Lang
Conservation: Carsten Wintermann, Johanna Lang, Beate Rieß, Sybille Kreft
Area: 925 qm