Hidden Geographies

Friday, 28 March 2014 16:10 Written by Laura González Flores

In her photos of surgeries, Mariana Gruener uses photographic technique in the purest documentary sense while borrowing from the aesthetic tradition of Western visuality: as in Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp, the axis of the image is the open body. From the “seeing to believe” of scholasticism to the “seeing to know” of the modern age, vision shifts from the realm of faith to the territory of knowledge. Whereas in Rembrandt’s oil, the subtle beauty of the composition of light conceals our morbid curiosity, in Gruener’s photos, accuracy and detail discover and underline it. Unprotected from our inevitable scientific vocation not to say our escopophilic drive and passion through our sight, we surrender to the act of seeing the open body thanks to the double technological mediation of medicine and photography. Unlike Rembrandt's clearly constructed image, Gruener’s photographs remind us of the fact that that body - a body- is real and could be ours. The amount of detail means that we cannot regard the body as an abstract entity, but rather as a concrete body that can be distinguished from others by its specific features. Concealed behind the morbid voyeurism of the body lies the inevitable capacity of photography to turn the epistemological function of the image into a statement of aesthetic and artistic intentions.
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