excerpts from “The Dutch Suicide,” “Veronica Huber,” and “Who Was Francesca Seycora?”


The Mutable Archive is a collaborative work in which commissioned writers, scholars, historians, medical ethicists, philosophers, and a spiritual medium each writes a script and then performs a speculative biography for a chosen subject in Dr. Hyrtl’scollection at the Mütter Museum.  Research, archival data, factual error, personal bias, and the writer’s own longings and conjectures guide the creative process, as each pursues the impossible task of identity construction. While mining the archive, each contributor examines the illusory nature of truth while questioning the taxonomic system that defines their chosen subject. Sharing a kinship with the storytelling tradition, the video performances resurrect the archive, connecting each subject with the socio-political, cultural, and economic conditions that define our present time.

Buzz Spector is an artist and critical writer, who works in a wide range of mediums including sculpture, photography, printmaking, book arts, and installation. His work makes frequent use of the book, both as subject and as object, and is concerned with the relationships among public history, individual memory, and perception. In The Mutable Archive, Spector speculates on the intriguing life of "The Dutch Suicide."

Chelsea Knight is an artist who works in film, video, performance, photography and installation. She often works with collaborators to address the performative and often confounding nature of language and the complexities of communication and human behavior. Knight’s contribution to The Mutable Archive intermingles Veronica Huber’s narrative with her own, peppered with passages from Hamlet.


Victoria Vesna is an artist whose collaborative work can be defined as experimental creative research residing between disciplines and technologies. With her installations, she investigates how communication technologies affect collective behavior and the ways in which perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation. Vesna muses on the life of a mysterious tightrope walker from Istria in The Mutable Archive.

Ellen K. Levy is an artist whose work focuses on complex systems, neuroscience and human perception. Her practice encompasses experiential mixed-media installations, innovative forums, curatorial projects, and writing in the interface between art, science, and technology. In The Mutable Archive, Levy ponders the historical setting and sexual politics surrounding the life of celebrated Viennese prostitute, Francesca Seycora.