In Search of Frankenstein
Shot in the alpine landscape that inspired Mary Shelley's classic novel, Chloe Dewe Mathews’ photographic series In Search of Frankenstein juxtaposes snow-covered mountains with a network of eerie subterranean bunkers, built in the 1960s to shelter the entire population of Switzerland in the event of a nuclear disaster.
The project was conceived during a residency at the Verbier 3-D Foundation in 2016, when the artist discovered that Shelley's manuscript was started during an unusual holiday on the shores of Lake Geneva. The ominously wet weather conditions of 1816 - the ‘Year without Summer’ - forced Shelley and her companions to stay indoors day after day, dreaming up ghost stories, from which Frankenstein's monster emerged.
Dewe Mathews photographed the region that had inspired the eighteen-year-old author, exploring miles of underground corridors and vast melting glaciers that seemed to offer parallels between Shelley's prophetic socio-environmental concerns and the anxieties of our time. In Search of Frankenstein presents a contemporary sublime, which affords this monumental piece of literature fresh resonance, two hundred years after it was first published.
The exhibition In Search of Frankenstein is currently on view at the British Library in London, UK until Sunday 1 July 2018. A small selection of related objects, including the first edition of Frankenstein, will be on display in the Treasures Gallery for the duration of the exhibition.
The artist book In Search of Frankenstein – Mary Shelley’s Nightmare has just been published by Kodoji Press. The book combines Dewe Mathews’ photographs with reproductions of the Geneva Notebook: the first half of Mary Shelley’s original manuscript.