With her neat, pale blond coif and black-rimmed glasses, one might imagine Joanna Ebenstein to be a dedicated librarian or archivist. To some extent she is, but Ebenstein's real passion is of the darker, more bizarre variety.
As the founder of Morbid Anatomy, a blog that began in 2007, Ebenstein has shared her love for antiquated curiosities and ephemera through a series of lectures, installations, exhibitions, and workshops. "I was working on a photo exhibition for the Alabama Museum of the Health Science called Anatomical Theatre, for which I spent a month traveling to medicine museums around Europe and the US," Ebenstein told us. "When I returned, I had so much information in my head that needed to be sorted and organized...the blog was kind of a spontaneous reaction to that, a way to organize and preserve my links, and a way to work through my ideas."
With 3,300 subscribers and approximately 2,000 hits a day, Morbid Anatomy is popular with "celebrities, directors, artists, writers, and a broad public newly interested in the interstices of medicine and art, death and culture." Working out of Gowanus's Observatory art space, Ebenstein organizes anthropomorphic taxidermy classes, mummification workshops, lectures on painters, head-shrinking, necropolises, and exhibitions that provide an illustrated history of practices around medicine, death and life-after-death. And that's not all: The same converted factory that houses Observatory is also home to Cabinet and Proteus Gowanus (an "Interdisciplinary Gallery and Reading Room").
This Sunday, June 19th and Sunday, June 24th, Ebenstein will be hosting a mummification class taught by Sorceress Cagliastro, and each lucky participant will end up with a very special "animal mummy of their own making." The class description notes that "No animals are harmed or killed for this class; the materials are found already deceased, obtained either from a food service such as a meat market that serves a clientele seeking intact animals, or from a pet feeder supply."
But Cagliastro isn't going to stop there; she has her sights set on human mummies. Somehow we're not surprised The Man wants to crush the rights of Brooklyn's most trailblazing artisanal mummifiers!