COS SOCIAL Lliçó d'anatomia, 2017

SOCIAL BODY. Anatomy Lesson, 2017
Media installation, Variable dimensions

Conceived as a performance for the screen, COS SOCIAL. Lliçó d'anatomia (SOCIAL BODY. Anatomy Lesson) examines the social construction of the body in contemporary culture. The project is linked to the anatomy lesson, a commonplace subject in Baroque painting that pictorially reflected the new paradigm of empirical and scientific knowledge of modern rationalism. Morey locates the reconstruction of this particular anatomy lesson in the anatomical amphitheatre of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia, built in 1762 and one of the best preserved in Europe. In the seventeenth century, dissection anatomy classes were infrequent and spectacular, to the point of becoming social events.

With a duration of fifty minutes, the piece shows the body of a man in an amphitheatre surrounded by a group of characters examining him, as well as several cameras recording the action from various viewpoints. ‘As the camera turns, it transforms into one more character in the picture’, explains the artist. As the work progresses and the camera approaches the naked body, excerpts from the essay by Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972) and from Cine-Eye manifesto and other writings from the 1920s by Dziga Vertov are heard.

Morey’s career is marked by an interest in showing the subject as a machine of desire subjected to an erotic and at the same time destructive drive. In this work, as the title indicates, the artist draws a parallel between the physical and tangible body of the individual (a body manipulated, observed, dissected and objectified in an anatomy lesson) and the social body as the set of individuals manipulated, observed, dissected and objectified by the mechanisms of power. The helpless and seemingly apolitical body in the hands of allegorical medical professionals thus becomes an image of the political construction of the body.

Technical details

Original title:
COS SOCIAL Lliçó d'anatomia
Registration number:
Morey, Joan
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan
Object type:
Media installation
Videoinstallation, colour, sound, 54 min and courtains
Variable dimensions
Edition number:
Ed. 1/3
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan. National Collection of Contemporary Art
© Joan Morey
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