"The two traditions form a reciprocal relationship that illuminates their representational and political imbrications. The historical persistence to delineate between a medical and artistic "aesthetic" reveals a disconcerting bias towards privileging the power and credibility of the empirical realm over the artistic."
The article focuses on what Moeschen calls the "performative trace," which she sees as characterising the construction of both medical and sensational photographs of individuals with extraordinary bodies, creating "an alternate frame around these subjects that explicitly signals the perceptual and cognitive apparatuses ascribed to performance." She notes that
"The performative trace becomes another presentational "mode" employed, ironically in the case of the medical profession, to disarm these unusual bodies, endowing them with a quality of the ephemeral that ultimately promotes uncritical fascination; it promotes a kind of fetishistic voyeurism and illicit titillation."The instability which this theatrical element introduces into these photographs is, for Moeschen, a deliberate strategy on the part of both medical and sideshow photographers to manipulate the "cultural and ideological value" of their subjects.