Cover of The Nutshell Studies book by photographer Corinne May Botz

Spring issue of photography magazine FOAM on the theme of miniatures features an unlikely crime scene project by Corinne May Botz

Among the many fascinating photo projects in the Spring issue of FOAM magazine is one by Corinne May Botz featuring crime scenes. But these aren’t real crime scenes of murderers or criminals. They’re miniature dioramas designed by Chicago heiress Frances Glessner Lee who endowed the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1931, the first program in the US for forensic pathology.

Glessner built dollshouses at a scale of 1:12, replicating real crime scenes to help train detectives. Corinne May Botz spent seven years on her exhibition and book, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Frances Glessner Lee named the studies after the police motto, “ Convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”

Shot with a large-format camera Corinne May Botz’s photographs hone in on the unreal detail of these spaces that marry the genre of Toys with the grisly genre of the Crime Scene, that leaves you unsure as to how to look. Botz writes of the project:

“Lee followed the role prescribed for her as an upper-class woman, but domestic life never suited her. The houses where she lived were a place of refuge, personal expression, and pride, but they were also a source of disempowerment and anxiety. While she was unhappy with the roles she was forced into as a woman, she maintained assumptions about a woman’s place in the home. Interestingly, she advanced in a male dominated field by co-opting the feminine tradition of miniatures.”

Other notable features in the Spring issue of FOAM include Stephen Gill’s Outside In project, which introduces relevant but random elements into photograph-making, and Rineke Dijkstra’s The Krazyhouse. Dijkstra has a Retrospective at the Guggenheim from June 29–October 3, 2012.

Buy The Nutshell Studies


Your download will start shortly, please do not navigate away from this page until the download prompt has appeared. Doing so may cause your download to be interrupted.