This event occurred in a famous old building in the centre of Amsterdam called the Waag. A ‘Waag’ is a weighing-house. There are several of these houses throughout the Netherlands and Germany. They were used in former times for the weighing of goods to be sold in the local market. However, the Amsterdam Waag, a beautiful monument from 1488, has a history unlike any other. It was indeed used for weighing goods, foodstuff and of course cheese. Between 1550 and 1690 it was also used for the weighing of witches during witch-trials !
Later on it housed several local guilds, representing painters, smiths, masons and surgeons. It was through the connection to the surgeons guild that the Waag took on its now legendary function as a Theatricum Anatomicum. This took place in the upper tier of the building. Human cadavers were cut up for the purpose of study, analysis and lectures. For a small admittance fee, members of the public could come in and watch the educational, if sobering, exhibition of dissection.
In more recent years, the building functioned as a fire brigade station and for a short time as a Jewish Historical Museum. It is now a preserved monument, protected against demolition or misuse of anykind.
Forgotten Fish were fortunate to be allowed to set up a performance in its hallowed anatomy chamber. The history of this space was so diverse, so many ghosts present, that in the end they decided to transform it into a ‘museum of unrelated things’ – their solution to the problem of integrating that diversity into one site-specific theme. The performance consisted of seven 20 minute shows for a limited audience only (although it was live streamed on the net). The acoustic properties of this charming old building were excellent and warm, the sound was good, the repertoire varied and a fine time was had by all. The room’s gruesome history of butchered bodies was soon forgotten.