A fragmentary investigation about misogyny and violence during the Belle Époque
The name of Josefa, Felisa, Mariana, Amparo, Antonia, Teresa, Victorina, Francisca, Tomasa or Cecilia, among others, came up in the news of the spanish press during the Belle Époque. They were accused of adultery, infanticide, abortion, prostitution, presumption of childbirth, disobedience, kidnapping or witchery among other tipical female crimes, and their bodies were examined, on a regular basis, searching for evidence that sustained the accusations.
Victorina was murdered by her husband in the morning of 19th June, 1889. During the trial against the agresor, she was accused of adulteress. Forensic doctors contributed to this idea. The evidences extracted from the victim's body during the autopsy, they said, indicated that she was a hysterical woman who was driven away by erotic passions.
Mariana was murdered by her husband on the street. During the trial against the agresor, he accused her of being an adulteress and a prostitute. She was detained by the police, days before the murder, because she run away from him.
Josefa was murdered by her boss while she was working. There was no trial. He killed himself after the murder. Rumors came up acusing her of being his mistress, but an autopsy confirmed that she couldn’t be his lover because she was a virgin.
Maria del Amparo was accused of having practice an abortion to Felisa, a 18 years old girl. The two of them were detained and imprisoned. There is no certainty about to what medical and ginecologycal examination Felisa was submited.
Francisca and Tomasa were accused and imprisoned due to a rumors. Francisca gave birth to a dead child. Her friend, Tomasa was with her when she gave birth. They were accused of adulteress and infanticide.
Enriqueta was accused of kidnapping a child. After she was imprisoned, while waiting for the trial, the accusations increased. Her house was examined, her clothes, her books as well as her body.
The anti-feminist and misogynist claim that medical science developed around the relation between female sexuality and evil, had a real impact on women’s lifes. The system and the press were in charge of modeling these bad women, and introducing them into the public arena according to the traditional dictates that had been maintained for centuries. Terrible accusations, insults and moral judgments were presented in the pages of the press that fabricated their stories.
The acts committed against the bad women changed their social condition from citizen to guilty, from alive to dead or from free to imprisoned. Their status as women transgressors of the red lines that marked the limit between the allowed and the prohibited during the Belle Époque, has positioned them somewhere in the archive machine; to what remains of it, in an almost ironic way, they owe their existence.
Archives  (2018-2021) explores the form of the scientific and medical anti-feminist discourse through individual stories, made of voids and silence, in where the edges of the story of our nature seems to appear. In them, we could see the reflection of how we have been affected, in the most literal sense of the word, by domination and misogyny. In them, our past takes shape and also our lifes, if we had lived a little more than a century ago. All of them, with their particular stories, individually and collectively symbolize, represent and make evident the submission to patriarchal control, during the crisis of thought and misogyny that took place at a time of social change and blind trust in progress.
Josefa, Victorina, Mariana, Enriqueta, Felisa, Amparo, Francisca and Tomasa are the protagonists of this project. Their particular stories provide information. They are like mirrors: would I be like them if I have lived 130 years ago? Their stories, in a individual and collective way, represent the submission to patriarchal hegemony, misogynistic ideas and the crisis of thinking in the matter of women, which takes place during the Belle Époque.
Photobook edited during RPS PHOTOBOOK MASTERCLASS 2019 at Reminders Photography Stronghold, Tokio, with Teun Van der Heijden, Sandra van der Doelen and Yumi Goto and Masaru Goto.
The project has been posible thanks to the collaboration of: Museu d’Historia de la Medicina de Catalunya; Museo de Anatomia Javier Puerta UCM, Madrid (A); Museo Olavide, Madrid (O); Institut d’Historia de la Ciencia i la Medicina Lòpez Piñero, Valencia (M); Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London (G); Museo di Antropologia criminale Cesare Lombroso, Torino (L); Museo del Calzado José Maria Amat Amer, Elda (C); Museu de la Perruqueria Raffel Pagès, Barcelona (P); Museu Frederic Marès, Barcelona.
El proyecto ha sido posible gracias a la colaboración de: Museu d’Historia de la Medicina de Catalunya; Museo de Anatomia Javier Puerta UCM, Madrid (A); Museo Olavide, Madrid (O); Institut d’Historia de la Ciencia i la Medicina Lòpez Piñero, Valencia (M); Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London (G); Museo di Antropologia criminale Cesare Lombroso, Torino (L); Museo del Calzado José Maria Amat Amer, Elda (C); Museu de la Perruqueria Raffel Pagès, Barcelona (P); Museu Frederic Marès, Barcelona.
Photobook, 176x250 mm.
Colour and black and white film negative: 6x6cm, 4,5x6cm, 35mm.