October 31, 2012

Shakespearean Exteriority

A new exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library, co-curated by Rosamond Purcell and Michael Witmore

Very Like a Whale takes its name from Hamlet’s quickly changing descriptions of a cloud’s shape as a camel, a weasel, and, finally, a whale—claims that are met each time with hearty agreement from Polonius.

Jointly curated by Folger Director Michael Witmore and photographer Rosamond Purcell, the exhibition explores the richness and variety of Shakespeare’s visual language through Purcell’s photographs and a wealth of rare books, manuscripts, prints, and natural objects. Along the way, it presents a sprawling landscape of ideas and images, from mirrors, magic, and optical illusions to uncanny animals, twists of fate, and the ugly transformations of war. More info here.

“When I stood there making academic small talk and looking at the automaton, or peering into the gorgeous array of books on objects in the ‘Wind’ case, I considered the…

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