Every sorceress and hysteric ends up being destroyed, and nothing is registered of her but mythical traces.
Hélène Cixous & Catherine Clement
Salpêtrière Series uses portraits of patients of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, who suffered from symptoms of epilepsy and hysteria, commissioned by neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and originally published in 1880 in Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière .
The use of photographic flash by Jean-Martin Charcot during his clinical demonstrations in Salpêtrière hospital, granted the release of symptoms of hysteria in his female patients. The paralyzing light triggered the beginning of performance and staging of this mental condition unfolding at spectators’ pleasure and desire. Yet, this immobilising and piercing gaze can still be rejected by overstretching it to the point of fading and returning a foggy glare back.
The echo reverberates within the space of the darkroom and then transforms in a monotonous voice of a woman engulfed by the thick, dark waters. A flash of light coming in hazy waves steadily erases the traces of the image only to be abruptly salvaged seconds before it is irreversibly lost.
All images ©Maja A. Ngom