(selected writings and interviews)
March 4, 2013
A feeling of suspense is hanging over the Eternal City. Italians at the moment are without a pope and without a functioning government. “These are crazy times, incredible,” says a former administrator of the presidential Quirinal Palace. “But we are Italians, and we’ve seen a lot throughout history.” His colleague in the palace gardens agrees. “We live in a place where every stone has a very long history,” she says. “Something will happen and all this will be resolved.”
by Julie Miller
Earlier this month, Russian-born photographer Lena Herzog traveled to San Diego to chronicle Comic-Con, the annual comic-and-fantasy convention known for attracting meticulously costumed fans, in fine-art format. After capturing dozens of attendees in quiet moments, Herzog—whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Paris Review—passed along a selection of her portraits to Vanity Fair. Below, a close-up look at some of the convention’s most fanciful costumes, and the people behind them.
By Lawrence Weschler
Back in 1594, in the very heart of the period we will be considering in the pages that follow, Sir Francis Bacon, while prescribing the essential apparatus for “a compleat and consummate Gentleman” in his Gesta Grayorum, suggested that in attempting to achieve “within a small compass a model of the universal made private,” any such would-be magus would almost certainly want to compile “a goodly huge Cabinet, wherein whatsoever the Hand of Man by exquisite Art or Engine, hath made rare in Stuff, Form, or Motion, whatsoever Singularity, Chance and the shuffle of things hath produced, whatsoever Nature hath wrought in things that want Life, and may be kept, shall be sorted and included.”
December 18, 2011
By John Bailey, ASC
There was an electrical power blackout the day that seventeen-year-old Elena Pisetski first encountered a collection of jarred fetuses in the galleries of St. Petersburg’s Kunstkamera Palace, where an eerie light seeped in from the windows. Pisetski was a student at the university’s Philology Faculty located on the embankment of the Neva River, next door to the beautiful aquamarine-colored mansion housing the scientific specimens of Dr. Frederik Ruysch. Ruysch was Dutch, one of the legions of seekers of new knowledge who, during the age of exploration of the New World, collected thousands of related and unrelated artifacts from his native Holland as well as from distant lands, into what were called Wunderkammern (Cabinets of Wonder).
By Lena Herzog
From the earliest wunderkammern of Ole Worm and Athanasius Kircher to the more modern genes of the natural history museum and the hunting trophy, taxidermy (from the Greek, literally an “arrangement of skin”) has always occupied a slippery position somewhere between the worlds of science and art.
THE PARIS REVIEW:
INCOMPATIBLE WITH LIFE
By Lena Herzog
“We do not allow anyone to see it, let alone photograph it,” the director of Vienna’s Federal Museum of Pathology at the Narrenturm—the Tower of Fools—told Lena Herzog when she first attempted to visit.
By Lena Herzog & Graham Dorrington
Graham Dorrington is an Englishman who maintains a collection of antique farm tools, assembled by his late father. It contains some eight hundred pieces: sheep shears and dyke shovels, a horse-grooming scraper and a muck rake, a variety of manure knives, a bull nose ring, an assortment of turnip choppers, all manner of breastplows, and something called a wooden dibber.