The Anatomy of Melancholy
Linda Hufnagel’s installation inherits its title from the book, “The Anatomy of Melancholy” by Robert Burton which was first published in 1621. Burton’s writing offers a parallel journey to that of the artist as they are inspired not by science but from literature, insight and observation. Hufnagel’s installation reveals a process of abstract analysis; a dissected layout and a digression into subsections of composition, revealing a method of deduction through reflection.
The installation is archeological in its mosaic structure revealing the layers of its composition, yet does not link the work to any specific time. The weightless cubes present “repetition” as apposed to “reproduction”, as reproduction inherently excludes change, whereas repetition remains vulnerable to it. Each cube is a tiny component of a larger mass, yet the illusion of solidity gives no strength to the total composition, each cube being only as strong as its own structure.
William Styron wrote that melancholy is “…so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self – to the mediating intellect – as to verge close to being beyond description.” Hufnagel does not attempt description but deconstructs the mechanisms of thought and in attempting to give comprehensibility to the intangible, strips back the surface to reveal the framework beneath.
Robert Burton (1577 – 1640, Leicestershire, UK) was 45 when his first edition was printed in 1621. Since 1624, forty editions of his book have been printed, though after his death, for 124 years (1677 – 1799) no editions were published. During Burton’s lifetime, he added changes to the four editions published. He worked as the librarian of Christ’s Church College, Oxford and was a vicar at St. Thomas, in Oxford, United Kingdom.