Curated by Brian Walls
Lost Souls records Lena Herzog’s journey into the world of Cabinets of Wonder and Curiosities, precursors to the modern museum. Containing objects discovered in travels to unknown territories, especially the New World, these cabinets sought to illustrate and explain the universe and new sciences. It was an era of map making, of filling in the blanks and naming the unnamable, doubting the unquestionable.
This new delineation of geographical boundaries and human identity was one of the most fascinating and subversive events in the history of ideas, and it triggered a debate over fundamental religious and philosophical questions. Lost Souls takes us into this world rarely seen by outsiders. Having been granted access to the early cabinets Wunderkammern and to the first medical museums, Herzog has photographed their mysteries with a sense of beauty, wonder and tenderness. Her subjects are mostly infants born with genetic defects that prevented their survival, and although they have been preserved as scientific specimens, some for hundreds of years, they are profoundly transformed through Herzog’s lens into beings who mirror our own longings, fears, and existential dilemmas.