Collection of Captured Manifestations by Rachel Dawson
basement installation of phosphorescent porcelain sculptures
Ectoplasm, a concept that grew out of Victorian physics, often manifested through a medium’s bodily orifices and offers a deep metaphor for the relation between external matter, immaterial thought, and artistic creation. A medium’s body became a porous vehicle as the phenomena exuded from mouth, nose, breast and even vagina: she acted as a transmitter, in an analogous fashion to the wireless receiver, catching cosmic rays whose vibrations produced phantoms and presences. In staging their ectoplasmic manifestations, mediums were, for a time, able to invert the gendered hierarchies that existed in the scientific and para-scientific production of knowledge and experience a unique form of agency that reached beyond the political ends and religious goals of the Spiritualist séance room. Inspired by the century old sample of yellowed cheesecloth “ectoplasm” on view at the Society for Psychical Research in Cambridge (UK), each sculpture is made from the same material purported to be spirit matter.
Ectoplasm beginning to form into a materialized spirit (Medium: Kathleen Goligher, photographer, Dr. William Crawford)