An anatomical theatre for Fondazione Prada
For the second chapter of Fondazione Prada’s Guest Museum series, we designed an interactive space to host a collection of female wax ceroplastic bodies from the Museo di Storia Naturale La Specola in Florence and a film by David Cronenberg.
The programme seeks to provoke different interpretations of historical institutional collections through a contemporary lens, so we created a responsive spatial experience that draws attention to the eerie tension of looking at these female wax bodies in the present day. Our approach was to stay true to the artefacts, teasing out historical details into spatial interventions that bridge the past with the present moment to create new relationships between viewer and object.
Upon entering the space, visitors encounter a modern rendering of a surgical theatre – a cinematic space built in conversation with the themes of Cronenberg’s short film. The octagonal screening space frames the film in the context of the public spectacle of live anatomical dissections of the past, bringing visitors in an uncomfortable dynamic and drawing out the director’s longstanding interest in bodies and the grotesque.
On the first floor, 16 ceroplastic bodies are displayed in a graphic grid formation housed in minimal glass vitrines. Isolated from the thousands of diverse objects in La Specola, the sterile space we designed brings an intense focus onto the bodies, acting as a stage for a different kind of viewing experience.
The large room is atmospheric and dimly lit, but when visitors approach each body a motion sensor responds by slowly illuminating the scene from above like in a surgery. This simple gesture creates an intimate physical experience between bodies; an acknowledgement that we are looking.
Fondazione Prada, La Specola
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