Carl Tanzler met Elena Hoyos while he was working in a hospital in Florida. She had fallen ill with tuberculosis and Tanzler looked after her as her doctor. He immediately became obsessed upon meeting her. When she died, he took her body and lived with it for years, until Elena’s sister found out and Tanzler was arrested. It is believed that when Tanzler was released from jail he was reconnected with Elena’s corpse and when he passed away, they were buried together.
I created a diorama after Carl Tanzler’s obsession for and preservation of Elena. Within the box is an eyeball, lipstick, and a wax hand as Carl had to replace parts like her eyes, cover her with wax and upkeep her appearance with makeup. Behind the objects are dried flowers hanging upside down to symbolize preservation.
Before I decided upon using Carl Tanzler’s story as inspiration for the piece I had gathered objects that I had and wrote about each one to come up with an idea: