The Glass Veil, an installation by Suzanne Anker, in the Ruine des Rudolf-Virchow-Hörsaals pays homage to medicine’s historical past. Destroyed toward the end of WWII by bombing, after the war, the building was refitted with a roof and windows. Since the middle of the 1990s the “preserved” Ruine has been used for art exhibitions, conferences and scientific exchange.
For The Glass Veil, Anker has installed twenty four upside down parachutes that float within the aerial space of this Ruine. Accompanied by both large and small scale photographs of specimens from the museum’s collection: a brain, a fetus, a stomach and other human remains enclosed in glass, Anker employs these specimens to question the viewer’s somatic gaze. What emotions, fleeting or otherwise are invoked by gazing at preserved flesh? What are the differences between a clinical appreciation of these artifacts and an inter-subjective one?
Her Butterfly in the Brain series (2002-2008), in which she uses advanced imaging technology to superimpose MRI scans of the brain, neurological maps and charts of urban sprawl with images and shapes of butterflies, makes me think of affinity, coincidence and symmetry:
Suzanne Anker, MRI Butterfly 7, 2008.
Suzanne Anker, MRI Butterfly (installation), 2008.
The Butterfly in the Brain continues Anker’s investigation into the visualizing techniques available through high technology simulation such as the microscope and the telescope. This work focuses on a dialogue of signs within the symmetrical (or virtually symmetrical) structures of the butterfly and the brain, both of which possess an axis copy. Using neurological maps as well as charts of urban sprawl, Anker plots the shape of a butterfly in each pattern. Constellations emerge from these distinct models calling into question the ways in which biological form is replicated in the cultural domain.