Augustine

The subject of Finzi’s paintings is a young woman, Augustine, admitted in 1882 to Saltpetriere, a psychiatric hospital for disturbed women in Paris. In the course of her treatment for hysteria, Augustine was posed for a series of photographs to reenact her hysterical seizures; existing photographic technology did not allow the recording of actual seizures. Finzi found himself quite disturbed by the photographs, and the Doctors who involved their patients in the theatrical directing. Eventually, Augustine tired of her role posing and dressed up as a man and escaped. These haunting, disturbing images are translated into works of art that are in themselves full of troubling ambiguity and shape-shifting. The original wet collodion photographs of Augustine have been transmogrified under Finzi’s skilled hands, as if something of the mystery and pathos inherent in the subject has been set free – translated into another medium, almost as if the spirit of Augustine herself has emerged through a glass darkly. (by David Cleveland, Writer)