The folder is, as you'd expect, a catalogue of corpses: people laid out in their funereal best. There are echoes of the Victorian funeral photos I first saw as a child in Washington, Arkansas and that are so creepily referenced in the brilliant ghost story The Others. But it's also, of course, an outline of some of our culture's modes of thinking about death and the dead (as well as their legacies.)
Other images that stick in my mind are of things I've never imagined, like this uncanny armor made from raffia and shells on the Gilbert Islands, which reminds me of images of Cuban Abakua ceremonies or photographs of Yoruba ritual. But this armor comes from tiny atolls in the Pacific...
And then there are things I just never think about much, like fog horns:
And every time I visit, I fall in love with a category I had no preconceptions about. Today it's the folders for Gauchos, where I find the following range of images:
Plus another favorite that I can't resist scanning, a 1967 image of the "Nympho Gaucho of the Matto Grosso," handily labeled at the lower right of the image below. Try saying that five times fast...
And I have to admit it should be interesting to have the aye-aye meet some Giants:
|This one seems to come in both economy and sample sizes....|
I imagine Goya's giant may be looking toward Gibraltar, hoping the queen will come for a visit.
But then I turn back to F, where the folder for "Fortune Telling" beckoned. I was hoping for images of craggy gypsies, but found I was more attracted to guides for palm reading:
The second one is actually Napoleon's hand, so you can evaluate the accuracy of palmistry using a reliable case history. Is that the hand he always kept inside his vest?
I love very general categories, like "Forests," more than I thought I might. A very brief cross section might include:
If the tools of palmistry become totems of the forest, this could provide another interesting place for the aye-aye to travel. One of the palms could close around him, and a giant or a gaucho could set him free and drag him off to "G".