Phantom Bodies

Blog Post by Alanna Yanneck

Phantom Bodies Exhibit


The Phantom Bodies exhibit at Saint Rose’s Esther Massry Gallery is a collection of 65 photographs taken by Tanya Marcuse. These photographs are split into two projects, titled Undergarments and Armor and Wax Bodies. I decided to focus more on the Wax Bodies prints, finding their history more interesting. Marcuse took photos of anatomical models made of wax from the late 18th century. These models were found in Italy and Vienna and were created during the age of Enlightenment, and they were used to teach about the human body.

What I found interesting was the presentation of the female models and how much effort was put into their appearance and how they fit the aesthetic of the time. Even though they were used as medical models, the artist who formed them gave them lipstick, jewelry, and long blonde hair. The positions that the models were placed in were soft and almost erotic. This makes me feel that even when used for scientific purposes, the female form was still sexualized and romanticized for the male gaze. Regardless of the purpose, a woman was supposed to look like a woman. This is still relevant to today, reminding me of the “dress like a women” comment Donald Trump made about his female staffers not wearing feminine enough clothing for his taste.