The Iconographie de La Salpêtrière is one of the first photographic archives in the field of clinical psychiatry. Under the direction of Jean-Martin Charcot, and financed by the French government, this archive constituted an effort to catalogue the unclassifiable through new photographic-documentary techniques. The realm of the marginal –whatever failed to fit into the racional logic of the modern project– was subject to dissection at La Salpêtrière. It was systematically measured, documented and classified. In this operation, however, the use of photography fostered the incorporation of spectacle and, with it, an entire network of complicities between patients and photographers. The spectacle of La Salpêtrière became a variety show at every Tuesday session, placed out in front of a representative sampling of cultural and scientific elites, through the induction of contortions by hypnosis, epileptic seizures, and fits of hysteria, and the registry and exhibition of cabinets of curiosities, biological rarities, freaks, and other phenomena.
Javier Viver is a Doctor of Fine Arts from the Complutense University of Madrid. He has made residency programs in the School of Visual Arts, Location One in New York, the Academy of Spain and in Rome, Hangar and Barcelona. He currently lives and works in Madrid.
RM is one of Latin America’s most prestigious publishers of art books. Focusing principally on photography, contemporary art, and little-known literary treasures or “rarities,” RM is known for the meticulous care it lavishes on each one of its titles, in terms not only of content, but also of design and typography, as well as the judicious choice of paper and materials and the strict supervision of production details.