Activating our Archives takeover by Ania Ready – Lunar Women

Image: Ania Ready

Artist and Activating our Archives participant Ania Ready shares work which emerged from Activating our Archives 2021. Using experimental photography techniques, editing and collage, Ania’s work reframes 19th century images of so-called ‘hysterical’ women, visually liberating them from their violent and oppressive settings.

“Today, I am going to show you another piece of my work which was based on the 19th century archive of female patients from the Salpêtrière Hospital. This series is still work in progress and I call it ‘Lunar Women’.”

“While going through the archival images of so called hysterical patients (who were often teenage girls), captured in all sort of dramatic and disturbing poses – their bodies twisted, in convulsions or contortions – I couldn’t stop asking myself how these images were obtained. Why does a convulsing body in an image look so static, especially given that the exposure time was long then and therefore any violet movement would create a blur? How much constraint was used? How many props were included? How much instruction was given? Which of the available drugs (ether, ethyl valerate, chloroform, morphine, amyl nitrate) was used?”

“In ‘Lunar Women’ series I take hysterical female patients out of their restrictive and often oppressive context and place them on a chemigram – a photographic experiment with a developer and a light sensitive paper. They start to float.”

Click here to discover Ania’s other work in response to this archive of images, ‘Dispassionate Attitudes’.

Click here to find out more about the Activating our Archives project.