The series of 8 black and white images show a young woman during fainting. They are cutouts from original photographs, in which she was held by a man, who is now erased except for his arms. As ostensible extra body parts, they cling to her body and turn her into an amorphous figure.
Valerie Schmidt´s work refers to the famous painting by André Brouillet from 1887 named “Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière“. It depicts Charcot demonstrating his fellow colleagues, how hypnotism can control a hysteric woman easily and makes her drop down into a man’s arms on demand. The patient is „Blanche“ (Marie Wittman), who was specially trained for these performances and is held by Dr. Joseph Babiński.
Every instant of her fall into unconsciousness is frozen and fused into a sculptural figure by isolating her body.
Her poses seem stiff, but are taken out of a transient movement, which result in a state of exhaustion and complete powerlessness. By deleting the the man who originally supported her equilibration, she becomes a statue of imbalance in balance. During her state of unconsciousness, she presents herself solely as the fainting woman and refers to the images of fainting women in the arms of a man at antipodes. The history of hysteria and its imagery of affliction created a certain image of the woman as the passionate figure during distress.
In this work, Valerie Schmidt deleted the male supporter of hysteria.