Identical twins Stephen and Timothy Quay are turning their lens toward the contents of the Mütter Museum!* After making more than 24 short and full-length animated films known for their gloomy beauty (1st image, still from Street of Crocodiles), the Brothers Quay are creating a film for a symposium held jointly by the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. The film is being financed by a grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, although the filmmakers have financed other projects by making music videos and TV commercials. The Quay Brothers (3rd image) have taken museum-related commissions over the years from the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the London-based British Museum and Wellcome Collection. While the Quays have been based in London for 40 years, their newest project brings them back to their hometown of Philadelphia. Their 1st visit to the Mütter Museum was during a field trip for a drawing class at what was then called the Philadelphia College of Art. Then they examined the Chevalier Jackson Collection of Objects Swallowed and Inhaled, the 139 skulls in the Hyrtl Collection, and the other exhibits (2nd image, wax models of eye injuries). Timothy remarks, “It’s an open cemetery where the beloved have an afterlife in jars, between wet specimens. The graveyard is kinder to us.” The documentary they are currently working on will include the ossified skeleton of Harry Eastlack, which was shot in a dreamy re-enactment of a visit by his sister, and a Viennese head model used to practice eye surgeries, which they outfitted with sheep eyes provided by a butcher. Fittingly, they describe their films as "dark fairy tales with elements of grotesquerie and the pathological.” They never enter a film through the front door or the back door, they say of their creative process. “More often, we use the trapdoor."
*Thanks to follower Jana Marie Miller for this news!