Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's a Body World, After All

There is so much going on in this grand ole land of ours that I do not understand...

Just when you think there's an event that would bring out the religious right all dressed up and carrying signs, no one shows up for the party.

Because I guess you don't want to mess around with stem cells, but it's okay to play with dead bodies.

Forgive me for the over-simplification, but that's how the Body Worlds exhibit, currently on display at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute seems to me.

"The exhibition features more than 200 authentic human specimens, including entire bodies, individual organs and transparent body slices that have been preserved through the process of "Plastination," a technique that replaces bodily fluids and fat. BODY WORLDS offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see and understand our own physiology and health and to gain new appreciation and respect for what it means to be human."

This image disturbs me so much that I am still debating whether I should have included it here. But you do get to see a dead guy's unit, which I can only hope is a singular experience.

This is the third stop (after L.A. & Chicago) on the "tour" and as far as I know, there has been no controversy surrounding the U.S. presentations.

I remember first hearing about Dr. Gunther von Hagens when he did a public autopsy in London. It seemed like grandstanding to me -- under the auspices of education.

Meanwhile, the kind doctor was also taking dead bodies and plastinating them.

The first time I saw a photo of him, I thought, "YIKES! This man is an honest-to-goodness ghoul!"

It may have just been bad lighting.

But I still entirely question his true motivation. It appears to be an obsession that borders on necrophilia.

My objection has less to do with the display of dead bodies, and more to do with the supposed "artistic" nature of the display and the use of props (Jeez, I mean, one guy is riding a plastinated horse! Another is "playing" chess...) Meanwhile, the bodies are flayed, sliced, posed...sorry, in my book, dead folks are not an artistic medium.

It's not so much squeamishness as a feeling of total gratuitousness.

For there is supposedly a room that contains a woman and her near-term baby still in utero.

I do not buy into the education aspect, since you can see and learn about any part of the human body online...

And children are allowed with parental permission?! No thanks -- we have enough 3 AM awakenings from screaming nightmares as it is.

Me, I'm waiting for the King Tut exhibit to come to the Franklin Institute in 2007... those Egyptians, they knew what to do with a dead dude.


At October 25, 2005 4:56 PM, Blogger Merujo said...

I've seen some of van Hagen's handiwork at the Army Medical Museum at (wait for it) Walter Reed. He plastinated female and male lower torsos for exhibit. Very freaky stuff. The museum director told me the army has a very warm relationship with him.

I'm not sure what that means...

Tut is coming to Philly? Coolness! I have to say, I feel very, very lucky - I got to see the treasures of Tut in 1992 in Cairo, at the Egyptian Museum. A friend and I were the only people there, so we had the whole shebang to ourselves. It was mindblowingly cool.

We found out as we left that the museum was totally empty because they'd cleared it out for the arrival of Princess Diana. But the old docents liked us, so they let us stay. As we left after a handful of hours, we saw the princess and entourage arriving for their private tour. Absolutely amazing day.


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