Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
run

Body Worlds--von Hagens Plastination Exhibit

Recommended Posts

What's the problem? Is there something about cadavers that is wrong? The bodies are in essence machinery that is no longer functioning. They weren't killed for use. The bodies were donated, in the same way that bodies are dedicated to medical schools and other scentific uses. (And they probably undergo less "desacration" here than being chopped up by a med student.) The exhibit is presented not so much as art as educational.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My sister-in-law was here tonight and had seen this exhibition in London. She found it very interesting. Planning on hauling my brother to LA to see it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooh great thread.

I occasionally with art stuff get an irrational uncomfortable feeling about things, so like eventhough I kow the people in it consented and its just science, it still seems wrong to me in some way. I don't know whether that's conscience, or social conditioning, but somehow...I dunno.

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After seeing some news stories and hearing about it on NPR a couple of times, I've added it to our list of things to do.

One of the things I find interesting is that if we go see it, since the Science Center is in Exposition Park, I can then walk by the Colusseum with it's two nude bronze torsos (no head, legs or arms - one a water polo player, one a gymnast) on the way to the Natural History Museum to see their Egyptian mummy. I wonder if this exhibit is really all that different from the other displays.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dr Von whatshisnam is also presenting a programme in the UK on the subject. In fact, he's performed a live autopsy of a corpse using his plastination "models" to demonstrate what he is doing. Been quite polemical and highly intriguing.

Anatomy for Beginners

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We missed it while it was in LA, but I hear there is a BW 2 here now. Anyone know about it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I think I need to reply to this thread.

Von Hagen is quite known here in Germany (in fact he's German alright). To some he is an artist, to many he is just a bit queer. In the media over here his exhibitions have been discussed, and, to some extent or another, criticized.

The fact is that he could only get permission to do his "show" in Frankfurt, although he tried to do it in different cities in Germany. He was not successful lobbying, mainly beacuse of protests. So he went off to America, angered and disgruntled.

A friend of mine went there, and he told me the whole exposition was crass, pornographic and borderline psychotic. It should not be taken lightly -- I know about Americas consumerism (and sometimes sensationalism, quite evident in the "press release" above), but somewhere you've got to draw the line (if you know what I mean). Another friend (born-again believer) described the spiritual atmoshere there nothing short of "dark" and "awful". The most apalling exhibit was a woman carrying a newborn baby in her womb, all plastilized (sp?).

Just wanted to give you an insight from a European on that subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it matters much whether he is queer or german. Well I hope it doesn't matter cause there are lots of great inspired art by queers and germans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@run:

You are right, that does not matter. Which by the way was not my point. But I personally would not call his exhibit art. In my opinion it does not even serve a purpose to educate people about human anatomy, when other factors, such as his profiling and pornographic intent, are so up-front.

It kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth when real dead corpses are on display in such an unethical, un-dignified fashion.

The question is, and please ask for yourself: Does this exhibit have any redeeming quality? Does it give you a sense of awe for God's creation? I dont think so, it rather stirs your lust and caters to your lower instincts (for a lack of better expression). Forgive me if I sound a bit preachy here, I know this is a controversioal subject and I am quite interested to see how the american public reacts to this.

Edited by Pat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just want to clarify Run -

when you said "a bit queer" you meant strange, and not gay? Think there's a bit of cross-atlantic mistranslation here.

Secondly - and I say this tongue firmly in cheek - the idea of this exhibit stirring one to lust reminds me of the anecdote about the director whose sex scene wasn't passed by the Hayes code people. He refilmed it, going for a close up of the actresses face in "ecstasy" shall we say. When presenting it to the board again he was told that it was a disgrace, disgusting, etc. to which he replied "it's only a close up of a woman's face, I don't know what you are seeing." Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is the moral of the story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just want to clarify Run -

when you said "a bit queer" you meant strange, and not gay?  Think there's a bit of cross-atlantic mistranslation here.

I'm not run but let me answer this smile.gif

I meant queer in the sense of strange.

As far as the word lust is concerned, zest or even carnal delight might be better expressions -- apparently not in the sexual sense. The "joy" of crossing moral borders, the appetite for the previously hidden and forbidden, the allure of human corpses... that might be at the core of the matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw some of the Autopsy for Beginners on U.K. TV and quite enjoyed quirky Doc Von Hagen uncoiling small intestines with abandon and nearly slicing off the fingers of his burly assistants.

It did a lot to demystify the body.

It explained what goes on in the body better than anything I've yet seen.

I don't think the intrigue of these exhibits has much to do with a fascination with dead bodies, and is based more in fascination with our own living bodies, what they look like underneath the layers of skin which hide our inner workings from view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not run

Whoops! Sorry blush.gif

I meant queer in the sense of strange

I thought so, just wanted to clarify that for our transatlantic friends.

As far as the word lust is concerned, zest or even carnal delight might be better expressions -- apparently not in the sexual sense. The "joy" of crossing moral borders, the appetite for the previously hidden and forbidden, the allure of human corpses... that might be at the core of the matter.

OK. That changes the debate entirely. I agree with you to an extent. This does demonstrate an appetite for the previously forbidden, however I don't think that there is a moral border being crossed here. I do think you're right, that part of this is with the allure of human corpses and not just the

fascination with our own living bodies

However, I don't see that as a bad thing. We all die, right? So, like sex, why make it into something "more than" and forbidden? I've seen a corpse, that of my grandmother in fact, and it was a very peaceful experience that helped me to come to terms with the otherwise blank wall of death (as I've said elsewhere, I'm not Christian). Nothing "lustful" (in your sense of the word) about it. Rather a need for understanding and a deeper sense of joy at the whole cycle of life - wonder at how we "function" and acceptance of death as part of that wonder - as a result.

Edited by gigi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OK.  That changes the debate entirely.  I agree with you to an extent.  This does demonstrate an appetite for the previously forbidden, however I don't think that there is a moral border being crossed here.  I do think you're right, that part of this is with the allure of human corpses and not just the fascination with our own living bodies

Yes. Sorry about my bad choice of words.

However, I don't see that as a bad thing.  We all die, right?  So, like sex, why make it into something "more than" and forbidden?  I've seen a corpse, that of my grandmother in fact, and it was a very peaceful experience that helped me to come to terms with the otherwise blank wall of death (as I've said elsewhere, I'm not Christian).  Nothing "lustful" (in your sense of the word) about it.  Rather a need for understanding and a deeper sense of joy at the whole cycle of life - wonder at how we "function" and acceptance of death as part of that wonder - as a result.

Interesting thought! Needless to say I'm all for learning about the human body and its intricacies. By no means am I some backwater hillbilly wink.gif who does not endorse learning. The second thought -- that of a deeper sense of joy at the cycle of life -- is, of course, for me connected with the belief in one Maker (I'm a Christian), which in this context makes sense also.

Now let me try to explain why an exhibit like leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Firstly, The exhibits on display sort of "overshoot" their target (or that of learning, awe etc. as described above which I agree to) in that they depict scenes who are at least a bit sensationalistic, if not (the case of the woman with the unborn child still in the womb) crass. If an artist does that, In my opinion he crosses a line. You could justify that as the inherent purpose of art -- crossing borders, pushing frontiers -- but in my view it depends. It can even turn the whole thing "sour".

Secondly, the history of the exhibit and von Hagen's intentions. As previously mentioned, he caused quite a stir in Germany, and is known for his obsession w/ human bodies and plastination. From what I have heard, and I dont want to play the judge here, this obsession may be unhealthy.

I know in a debate your "gut feeling" is not a valid point wink.gif , but my gut feeling and that of others sort of indicate "thumbs down".

Lastly, the grand scheme of things. Why the focus on dead corpses? What do you gain if you dissect them until every little muscle and tendon is visible? Does it brings you closer to the truth? We are so good at reducing things, breaking them down. As Phili Yancey said, "The afternoon at Body Worlds highlighted for me two distinct ways of looking at the world. One takes apart while the other seeks to connect and put together". (Havent read the book in which this is mentioned, just a few pages, but still interesting).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I browsed through it when you posted it up there. Perhaps I ought to have another nosy, as I can't recall most of what it said. Shall get back to you once have re-read this, Pat. Although for now I would say that those two ways of looking at the world really aren't all that distinct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...and it gets more and more, um, explosive:

Quote from DER SPIEGEL, German news magazine:

Ironically, however, it could be developments in Poland that create the greatest problems for the pathologist. Over the weekend, DER SPIEGEL newsmagazine revealed that von Hagens's father, whom he had appointed to run his Polish operation, had served as a member of the Nazi SS and participated in the oppression of Poles. For the Polish, already offended by the idea of a German man trying to make a business out of processing dead bodies on Polish soil just 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the news just added insult to injury.

The latest development is that the polish authorities/prosecutors are digging up some polish law that forbids the preparation of bodies outside graveyards. Which could be used against von Hagens endeavour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For Those Who Are Against This Exhibit

First of all, I have to ask... have you seen the exhibit or only heard about it? I have gone and seen the exhibit in Chicago over the Fourth Of July weekend. So here's my two cents on the matter.

A friend of mine went there, and he told me the whole exposition was crass, pornographic and borderline psychotic. It should not be taken lightly -- I know about Americas consumerism (and sometimes sensationalism, quite evident in the "press release" above), but somewhere you've got to draw the line (if you know what I mean). Another friend (born-again believer) described the spiritual atmoshere there nothing short of "dark" and "awful". The most apalling exhibit was a woman carrying a newborn baby in her womb, all plastilized (sp?).

1. This is why I tell people never to make judgements based on what other people have seen and experienced, because everyone is different and to give a fair opinion on something, it should never be handed down from one bias to another.

In all fairness, when I saw this exhibit, I found nothing pornographic about it. I don't see how it can become pornographic unless you've the maturity of a teenager who sees embalmed penises and giggles.

Yes you do see penis, yes you do see breasts, yes you see reproductive organs, but just because you see them, doesn't mean it's pornographic. That's like saying the pamphlets they give you at the doctor for birth control options are pornographic.

2. For the exhibit of the woman eight months pregnant, remember that this woman donated her body and the body of her child to plastination. Secondly, her body and the rest of the bodies of that nature are in a separate room allowing you the choice of going in to see it or not. It is not right out there in front of you where you're forced to see it. If you're uncomfortable with it, you don't have to see it.

You are right, that does not matter. Which by the way was not my point. But I personally would not call his exhibit art. In my opinion it does not even serve a purpose to educate people about human anatomy, when other factors, such as his profiling and pornographic intent, are so up-front.

It kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth when real dead corpses are on display in such an unethical, un-dignified fashion.

3. Again, I have to ask if you've actually seen the exhibit. For every specimen there is both educational information to be read beside it and also audio pieces where you carry an audio telephone and dial the number beside the piece to listen to the educational audio information.

Furthermore, not only do you see healthy specimens but you also see unhealthy specimens. Things such as, but not limited to:

A. Hearts that had suffered heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions that affect the heart next to healthy samples to see what happens to the heart when it suffers these effects.

B. Brains that had suffered strokes, swelling/hemorraging, alzheimers (which was -really informative) disease, etc. next to healthy samples to see what happens inside the brain when it suffers these effects.

C. Stomachs that had suffered ulcers, cancer, intestinal conditions, etc. next to healthy samples to see what happens to the stomach when it suffers these effects.

D. Breasts that had suffered cancer next to healthy samples to show what happens during breast cancer.

E. Lungs that had suffered cancer in all sorts of stages, from the blackest of lungs to lungs that had started to suffere it. Not only that, but they gave interesting facts on how exactly tar affects your lungs.

4. Please try and remember that all of this is on a volunteer basis. These donor's chose to allow their bodies shown to educate the general public. The general public who goes to the exhibit, chose to see it.

If you think it's not something you would appreciate, don't go see it. Just the same way you see something on the T.V. you don't approve of, you change the channel. Other people might find it interesting. And in my opinion because I have seen it with my own eyes to give it, I found it very informative and educational.

Lastly, the grand scheme of things. Why the focus on dead corpses? What do you gain if you dissect them until every little muscle and tendon is visible? Does it brings you closer to the truth?

Yes. Why wouldn't it? Before the general public was allowed to see plastination, these specimens were only allowed for the education of medical professions. If these specimens are used to teach the doctors that save lives, what isn't there to gain by dissecting them and seeing every little muscle and tendon? Thirst for knowledge doesn't mean you only have to be a doctor to see it.

The question is, and please ask for yourself: Does this exhibit have any redeeming quality? Does it give you a sense of awe for God's creation? I dont think so, it rather stirs your lust and caters to your lower instincts (for a lack of better expression). Forgive me if I sound a bit preachy here, I know this is a controversioal subject and I am quite interested to see how the american public reacts to this.

It gave me a sense of awe, that God (or what have you) could make something so intricate and designed so perfectly yet imperfectly, that each and every different piece of us has a use and how it can be misused. If that isn't awe, then I don't know what is, but then again... that's my opinion.

Not only that but to say "it rather stirs your lust and caters to your lower instincts" implies that because you felt that way, everyone else should feel that way. Because when it is all said and done, what one person finds interesting and exciting, the other may not... but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be available because you disagree. It just means you shouldn't go see it, read it, taste it, feel it, etc.

If these people chose to have their bodies used to educate people, if the public wishes to be educated in such a way... a way that does not purposely harm or hurt people, then that's their right to do so.

And that's my two cents.

- Jen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...