Stoic Marmite Soldiers: Annotating Alejandra Franch’s “Huevo”, 2017

Being back in Madrid brings memories of the year we spent hear during our sabbatical (2014-15). During that time I was lucky enough to meet the photographer Alejandra Franch and discovered her curious ongoing project and photobook Bello Público (“Public Body Hair”).

At the time, I offered to annotate these photographs with a series of quotations from ancient philosophers about hair – here is a small selection of that collaborative project:

It is forbidden to spit on one’s nail-clippings and hair-trimmings – Pythagoras Fragment (DL 8. 34)

How can hair come from what is not hair? – Anaxagoras Fragment B10

Now if it [what-is] became different by a single hair in ten thousand years, the whole would perish in the whole of time – Melissus Fragment F7

Death, if I’m right, is the separation of two things, soul and body. It is this and nothing else. After they are separated they retain their various characteristics which are much the same as in life….The fat person will remain fat, and someone with flowing hair will have flowing hair – Plato Gorgias 524c

Four-footed animals do not have hair in the armpits – Aristotle On the Parts of Animals 2.14

On arriving in Madrid yesterday, I picked up a copy of the PHotoEspaña 2017 guide – it is the 20th anniversary of the annual Madrid photograph festival that spreads out across the city and beyond and which begins this week.

While I will be able to visit several of the exhibitions here in Madrid, some of the exhibitions are held beyond the capital. One such exhibition is Enseñar a mirar. 40 años de la Escuela  de Fotografía Spectrum Sotos (Teaching to See: 40 years of the Spectrum Sotos Photography School) and Franch (who after I met her in Madrid, returned to work in her hometown of Zaragoza) is one of the exhibiting artists. In fact, the PHotoEspaña 2017 guide, which chooses one photograph to illustrate each of the year’s exhibitions, included her recent work Huevo/Egg, 2017.

On seeing Franch’s photograph I couldn’t resist continuing our collaboration by annotating this image with an ancient philosophical quotation. Here it is:

The Stoics divide reason according to philosophy, into three parts; and say that one part relates to natural philosophy, one to ethics, and one to logic….they compare it to an egg; calling logic the shell, and ethics the white, and natural philosophy the yolk – Diogenes Laertius 7. 1

For more info on Alejandra Franch’s work, visit here.

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