As you peruse Le catalogue, you may be reminded of old anatomical illustrations. Diderot and d’Alembert were among the first to itemize the limbs, guts, and organs of the human body, and many other encyclopaedists and draughtsmen followed in their footsteps. For some, these works might echo department store catalogues that sell furniture, clothes, and beauty products. Others might see in them hints of cosmetic clinic pamphlets, designed to entice us into getting a narrower nose or larger breasts. But isn’t there also a connection to porn sites which use genitals and bodies to draw the attention of the curious?
Le catalogue, an artist’s book, is a mixture of all that. Samples of arms, backs, legs, and genitals, are organized into categories and offered up for viewing. You can pick the skin tone and size that you wish, thanks to the colour charts and order forms provided. Dramatically altering our body has been one of our most far-fetched aspirations. Like the snakeskin on the cover, however, such changes can have unexpected results. What will a totally refashioned body look like? Only the coming century will reveal the risks that we run.
In 2005, I made a digital version of Le catalogue in the style of an interactive eBook: