"It is true, the spoken word enlightens both the spirit and the soul. Indeed, the HENDRICK’S Master Distiller can often be heard talking at length to her ‘two little sweeties’ – the delightful and peculiarly small copper pot stills from which the most unusual gin flows."

Mutter Museum and the Deformity of Beauty
With Valentina Lari

15th November 2012
Doors at 6 pm, Show commences at 7 pm

“The Deformity of Beauty. A Last Dance with the Mütter Maidens” is an experimental film by visual artist Valentina Lari inspired by selected real female specimens currently hosted by the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. Their stories are revealed through the presence of a beautiful young woman, a timeless visitor who becomes the witness of the secrets and adventures of these mysterious and somehow unfortunate medical marvels. A last dance symbolises the main character’s spiritual -and physical- liberation and it’s also a celebration of beauty. Inspired by an essay by philosopher David Hume the film deals with the notion of beauty and deformity through a dreamlike narrative and a haunting soundtrack by British composer glynne Cicada. All the stories are researched and based on the records of the museum and includes the sad tale of Mary Ashberry an achondroplasticdwarf who perished of a broken heart after losing her new-born baby; Francisca Seycora, a prostitute who died in Vienna and who’s skull is part of the famous Hyrtl Collection. And many many more. The film won the Amsterdam Film Festival Van Gogh Award for World Cinema - Experimental Film 2012.

Praise & comments for Through the Weeping Glass

“the Mütter Museum teaches you indelibly how strange life can be, how unpredictable and various [and] will revise and enlarge your idea of what it is to be human. The coupling of the Quay Brothers’ vision with the collections of the College’s Historical Medical Library and Museum has produced a riveting experience of contemplative set pieces exploring the College and Mütter Museum…”
Malcolm Jones (Newsweek)

"Through the Weeping Glass" takes a compassionate look at the skeletons, specimens and general oddities that populate the Mutter Museum in the Quay's decidedly different style. Stephen and Timothy Quay, born in Norristown and educated at the University of the Arts are revered for their experimental, meticulous stop animation with often creepy undertones. In short, the perfect people to honor Mutter."
Molly Eichel, Daily News, Philadelphia

"The film is beautiful, macabre, and thoughtful and reflects the oeuvre of the Quay Brothers as well as the Mütter Museum. Shadows and sound design underscore the lives behind some of the remarkable human remains in the Museum’s collections…"
Rick DeMott, Animation World Network

The Deformity of Beauty
“I was impressed by how beautifully directed it was and how it handled the human remains with dignity and respect. Instead of the film being a dry scientific presentation, Lari has opted for a gothic atmosphere in B&W, using, however, accurate scientific data from the Museum's archives. I noticed that the audience came from various backgrounds (medicine, art, science etc.) and everybody found it very appealing. So, it would appeal to the general public and to University students and staff not just from bioarchaeology and anthropology, but from other depts.” Dr Anastasia Tsaliki, bioarcheologist and palaeopathologist

“… it's amazing how much our two films actually do overlap[almost uncannily] with themes and images and objects (…) the actress eminently and very beautifully carried her fiction as did the very handsome photography in black and white…A skilful achievement” The Quay Brothers

Born in Florence, Italy. Postgraduated with an MA in Film at Goldsmiths College in 2003 she currently lives in London. . Her visual work mainly focuses on sense of loss, death, and childhood. She has exhibited in Italy and London as photographer; and and her early short films (Scheinruhe, October Games) of a more classic narrative approach, have been awarded and screened in international film festivals. In The Dark Closet (2007) an installation/photography piece was selected as part of the art showcase of The Human Right Nights Film Festival in Bologna and experimental film Post Mortem Souvenir (2008) based on JG Ballard’s work was part of 12 Steps Down at Shoreditch's Town Hall, London. She has been awarded a grant by the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia in 2010 for the production of an experimental shortfilm and photographic images to be completed and delivered in 2011/2012. In 2011 a selection of her unsettling photographs were included in London based Panic exhibition inspired by the panic movement created in the 60ies by revolutionary filmmakers Alejandro Jodorowsky and Fernando Arrabal. Most recently, in October 2011 her film In Loving Memory-previously exhibited at the Old Operating Theatre Museum of London in 2005-was showcased in Ghent, Belgium as part of a group show on death and relics.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional medical organization in the country, was founded in 1787 when twenty-four physicians gathered “to advance the science of medicine and to thereby lessen human misery.” Today more than 1,400 Fellows (elected members) continue to convene at the College and work towards better serving the public.
Throughout its two-hundred-year history, the College has provided a place for both medical professionals and the general public to learn about medicine as both a science and as an art. The College is home to the Historical Medical Library and the Mütter Museum, America’s finest museum of medical history, which displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a nineteenth-century setting. The museum helps the public understand the mysteries and beauty of the human body and to appreciate the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Talks at 11 Mare Street - please click here to buy tickets