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November 4, 2005 11:27 PM   Subscribe

Body Worlds is an art exhibition that toured Europe from 2001-2003. Retooled for 'aught five, it has made its way to the New World for stays in Philadelphia and Toronto. The brainchild of Gunther von Hagens, a German anatomist, progenitor and patentee of the plastination technique of preservation, Body Worlds features actual human corpses: plastinated, dissected and posed. Nutjob? Artist? Criminal? von Hagens says his aims are primarily educational. Slate has an informative sideshow about the current exhibit, its origins and predecessors. Criticisms of this work run the gamut from predictable outrage to marxist. But if you're interested, you can request plastination services, or go to the man himself and donate your body(cool downloadable brochure on this page). And, of course, what would a good exhibition be without a shop? Previously discussed, the first time around, here, here, here,and here. Similar exhibit in San Francisco this past summer called "The Universe Within". Plastination is also apparently a musical phenomenon.
posted by kosem (69 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this when it was in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was really incredible. Unfortunately I was really sick that day, which detracted considerably from my attention span.

Definitely an interesting, if somewhat eerie, exhibit.
posted by twiggy at 11:31 PM on November 4, 2005


[Apologies for the registration required link to the Chicago Tribune.]
posted by kosem at 11:47 PM on November 4, 2005


I haven't seen it yet but there's a rumor, here in philadelphia that:
a)there was some oozing
and
b)everybody keeps looking for flayed penises and rectums.

I'm just saying.
posted by gilgamix at 11:59 PM on November 4, 2005


I saw this in London and it's fantastic. There is something weirdly ahuman about the exhibits, and even the really, er, biological, bits somehow don't seem real.

Anyway, everyone should see this, it really is educational, and you may never see it's like again.
posted by winjer at 12:12 AM on November 5, 2005


I visited the exposition in London and felt a bit nauseous afterwards. Apparently exposing dead people for amusement to me amounts to crossing a moral line.
Or maybe I've seen too much movies like Silence of the Lambs, Se7en etc.
It's amusing ideas like a man with his skin across his arm like a raincoat that reminded me so much of movie serial killers.
Maybe it should not be called Body Worlds but Fun with corpses.
posted by jouke at 12:14 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw it in 1998 or 99 in Osaka; got to touch one of them on the muscle tissue (no big deal, just like grainy silicone caulk) and hold a brain in my hands. You have to wonder about that Dr. Creepenstein, but it really is a fascinating exhibit.
posted by planetkyoto at 12:27 AM on November 5, 2005


I've been meaning to go and check out the Toronto show, anyone seen it? The whole thing doesn't particularly bother me, I figure after death whatever remains is merely an empty shell.
posted by bobo123 at 12:41 AM on November 5, 2005


I don't know whether to donate my body for art, or for use as a crash test dummy, where it might, in fact, save dozens of lives.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:48 AM on November 5, 2005


Wherever that exhibit is now, I hope they have better luck hanging on to their fetuses than when they were here in LA.
posted by jaimev at 1:45 AM on November 5, 2005


Firstly, the title of this thread is pure gold. Bravo kosem.

This exhibit really fascinates me. If I taught a biology class in a city where this was being displayed, I would take my students to see it. I would love to see it in person, instead of just always hearing about it.

With respect to the moral outrage that always accompanies Body Worlds, I'm frankly pretty tired of it. As far as I am concerned, only living people are entitled to moral consideration, and we already have a hard enough time respecting the rights of the living. Granted, there are social taboos and religious superstitions surrounding the treatment of corpses, but this can be dealt with by making your wishes known about your corpse before you die. The way I see it, if prior to your death you don't make your wishes known regarding your corpse, your corpse should by default be put to some use, and I would certainly consider von Hagens's work to be a worthwhile use.

It's amusing ideas like a man with his skin across his arm like a raincoat that reminded me so much of movie serial killers.

Not only is this pose a tribute to a famous anatomical diagram, but when I saw that picture, I thought that's the kind of thing I want done with my body when I die.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:22 AM on November 5, 2005


Mmmm..... interesting. As fun as it sounds, with this whole "I want to be that mutilated corpse" idea, I'd rather be selfish, and go back into the earth, rather than be put on display for X thousand people....

Your fifteen minutes of fame.... post-humous.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 4:28 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw von Hagens at the Love Parade in Berlin a few years ago. You wouldn't believe the amount of fine tail that man was able to attract.

Nutjob? Artist? Criminal? German!
posted by foot at 5:13 AM on November 5, 2005


Anyone who brings a kid to "Body Worlds" should be arrested for child abuse. The version of the show I saw should have been called "Dead Penises." Eight of the corpses were exhibited in standing poses, with their dead penises displayed at what was exactly eye level for an eight year old girl standing in front of them. The children visiting this show were clearly disturbed, and running around with more than usual agitation. I stood behind one mother who was forcing her daughter to stare at one of the corpses, at one point even putting her hands to either side of the girl's face and holding her head. The mother didn't notice that the from the girl's point of view, the view was straight on into a big, dead penis. Their girl was complaining and trying to run away, but her mother just didn't get it.
Body Worlds is an outre and highly transgressive art project masquerading as an "educational" exhibit. It is truly evil. (And I speak as someone who has some experience of corpses and living anatomy in a medical context.)
posted by Faze at 5:48 AM on November 5, 2005


Evil? What an odd word to use. Attributing the behaviour of a person not involved with the exhibit to the exhibit itself is a ridiculous thing to do. And what's wrong with the penis? Are you one of those ultra-conservatives?
posted by malusmoriendumest at 5:57 AM on November 5, 2005


I also saw the exhibit in Chicago earlier this year and thought it was incredible. In 3 hours I got a much better understanding of the actual the inner workings of the body and how everything relates to rest of the body than I did in all the classes I had throughout school.

I didn't see any of it as disrespectful to dead. Based on some of the criticism of the exhibit I had read about it beforehand I was expecting something more sensational and shocking, but what I saw was tasteful while still pushing the envelope of the anatomy exhibits.

Most of the kids I saw there looked bored, not traumatized. Just like kids usually seem at most exhibits not targeted to them.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:22 AM on November 5, 2005


Huh. Penises at eye level for an eight year old. How...unnatural. (who let the troll in?)
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:26 AM on November 5, 2005


Guh. That wasn't fair. (I hate people who spout ad-hominems. Now I hate me). I don't get the automatic - penis equals trauma thing though. There are plenty of nude beaches around the world where kids and penii get along just fine.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:34 AM on November 5, 2005


He presented a series of lectures on the human body for Channel 4 in the UK. It was basically a live autopsy, and I found it hugely enlightening. The size and weight of some of the organs is difficult to comprehend until you see something like that.
posted by fire&wings at 6:45 AM on November 5, 2005


I spent an afternoon at the Philadelphia show about a week ago. I was totally blown away. I didn't know if I was looking at a science exhibit or an art exhibit. They very well could have had the show at the PMuseum of Art and the effect would have been about the same.
I also agree that the show probably isn't for the younger crowd, not because of any puritanical feelings that I have about sexuality or body issues but because, to be perfectly honest, there are moments that I found to be a little creepy, a little gross, or a just a little too heavy with the realization that these bodies used to be alive. I mean, parts of the show freaked me out a little bit and I'm in my 20s. I can't imagine how far over an 8 year old's head this'd go.

But anyway, if this show comes to your town and you don't go see it, you've seriously missed out on what may wind up being one of the most interesting things you've experienced in a while. It's truely amazing. Like, jaw-droppingly so.
posted by Jon-o at 7:20 AM on November 5, 2005


When I was eight, I would have killed to see a penis. I only got to see my dad once for a very fleeting moment, and the penis was something I was extremely curious about.

Here is the previous discussion we had about Professor von Hagens' work.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:25 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw the exhibition a few years ago here in Germany. I have no problems with the concept and the exhibits themselves - I actually think they are highly educational, as well as provide a much necessary confrontation of death in today's society.

What I do have a huge problem with, though, is von Hagens himself. I may accept the idea of calling it "art" as borderline, but the guy is clearly barking mad. His whole habitus, his deranged ideas about his art, his psychopathic way of talking, and last but not least his methods are beyond description.

As far as I could tell, the linked articles only once refer to his alleged usage of executed Chinese criminals. This has never been proven, but circumstantial evidence gathered by Der Spiegel (german magazine comparable to Time Magazine with a pretty good track record of investigative journalism) paint a really creepy picture of his doings in China - his reaction to this was not really convincing, to say the least.

However good, educational, and reasonably presented the exhibition is, I don't buy his motives, least of all the "art" bit. To me he is a lunatic, and that is what makes the show creepy for me.
posted by uncle harold at 7:46 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw it when it was in LA. . .it was very fascinating and a lot of the mounts showed a sense of humor. . .especially the horse and rider.

How would it been to have been the "plastinator" for the pregnant woman in the show?
posted by Danf at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2005


I'd say "Go out of your way to see it if you can, if you're not freaked out by the inside of bodies". You might never get a view like this again of what your body's like. I was awe-struck by von Hagens' vision and by the glory of the human organism.

You might want to go on an adults-only trip first and decide if you want to expose kids to the exhibition. For myself, I'd say over-twelves only.
posted by iffley at 8:57 AM on November 5, 2005


Absolutely stunning exhibit that everyone should see if they can. There were a ton of children here in the Chicago exhibits and I was more worried they'd knock over an exhibit than they'd get freaked out by a realistic portrayal of their underlying anatomy. Hardly evil, more divine than anything. Divine if a creator made it, wondrous if it evolved over time (or a bit of both).

The guy on the horse blew my mind.
posted by ao4047 at 9:19 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw it in London in either late 2002 or early 2003, can't remember. Fascinating! I've already told my friends in Philadelphia they should go.

[expletive deleted]: I recall reading at the exhibit that the corpses and body parts on display belonged to people who volunteered to be used for such purposes. I'm not sure if it was a generic consent form, or specifically for Dr. van Hagen's project, but either way, one can't really claim that the being part of this project is against the deceased's wishes.
posted by cactus at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2005


Now I'm curious - I'll have to make it out to the Philly exhibit soon. (Like when SEPTA stops striking and I can actually, you know, leave my friggin' neighborhood.) The pictures on the site didn't freak me out, and I saw my first human autopsy at the tender age of 15, so it's intriguing more than anything else.

If I had kids, I don't think I'd bring them. Not because of THE EVIL PENIS (I grew up with a father who was fairly unconcious of his body, or at least was firmly of the belief that it was his house, and he could walk around naked if he wanted to, goddammit), but because it is real humans, and I'm not sure most kids could deal with it respectfully, or comfortably.
posted by kalimac at 9:31 AM on November 5, 2005


Ah, and here's the link on the website:

Body Donation

"All anatomical specimens on display in the exhibitions of BODY WORLDS and BODY WORLDS 2 are authentic. They belonged to people who declared during their lifetime that their bodies should be made available after their deaths for the qualification of physicians and the instruction of laypersons. Many donors underscore that by donating their body, they want to be useful to others even after their death. Their selfless donations allow us to gain unique insights into human bodies, which have thus far been reserved for physicians at best. Therefore, we wish to thank the 6000 living and 300 deceased body donors."
posted by cactus at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2005


Body Worlds has the donated bodies and the successful plastination; The Universe Within has the questionable provenance, China, and oozing.
posted by mendel at 9:54 AM on November 5, 2005


There was an askme question where this topic came up as well: Cadaver disposal on the cheap.

Particularly interesting is a segment from CBC's The Current, part 3 is all about corpses as art.
posted by Chuckles at 10:16 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw the exhibit here in Toronto, and plan to go again to show my parents. It's quite bizarre and fascinating. I went the day before Halloween, and there were many, many children. Some laughed when they saw penises, but most of them looked with silent awe, always asking their parents, "Is that real? How about that one? Is this one real?"

One station in the exhibit allowed visitors to touch plastinated slices of a man's body, and pick up and hold his liver and brain.

It was surprisingly easy to forget that the corpses were once living people -- that is until you saw the few exhibits in which the body's face was not removed, and their humanness became extremely punctuated.

If anyone has the chance, I recommend you check it out.
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:43 AM on November 5, 2005


To be fair, I don't know much about the Der Spiegel controversy, although I have heard about it. I was under the impression that the accusations made against him lacked any substantial evidence. I would consider using executed prisoners from China unethical, but on the basis of my opposition to China's human rights practices, and the death penalty in general. I suppose I am in the minority in thinking that unless as living people they stated otherwise, their bodies should be free to be used for educational or scientific purposes without the deceased's express consent. Still, given current law and social climate, I think von Hagens has an obligation to rely on donated bodies.

As for the penises thing, give me a fucking break. Penis! Child abuse! I'm sure the purpose in having the figures standing was to expose children to genitals. So showing kids flayed and preserved corpses is fine, as long as we chop off the naughty bits.

Body Worlds is an outre and highly transgressive art project masquerading as an "educational" exhibit. It is truly evil. (And I speak as someone who has some experience of corpses and living anatomy in a medical context.)

So displaying the human body is highly trangressive and evil. What are you, Faze? A fucking Cathar?

Nice claim of authority at the end there too.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:45 AM on November 5, 2005


an outre and highly transgressive art project masquerading as an "educational" exhibit.

In Toronto, the exhibit is not on display at an art gallery or museum, but at the Ontario Science Centre... Okay, so some of the corpses are on skis and skateboards, but that's part of what makes it accessible --- if it was just a bunch of limp corpses draped on tables, that would be far more morbid.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:05 AM on November 5, 2005


Faze: Why should it have been called "dead penises"? Because the naked bodies had them?

Welcome to the real world, where mammals have genitalia. What do you want them to do, remove the penises from the cadavers?

"Truly evil", you call it? I can't imagine you in a medical profession where you claim you are, speaking authoritatively at the end of your post.

When I viewed the exhibit in Chicago, there were loads of children. They were curious, they were respectful, and they were asking wonderful questions to their parents about how the body works. With the audio tours and exhibit cards at their disposal, parents were teaching their children about the muscles, about the heart, etc. It was a wonderful thing to see in a day and age where science education is taking a back seat to religious fundamentalism.

The children at this exhibit were enthralled and interested, with the exception of the occasional bored one. Not one of them appeared disturbed or "abused" as you so put it. I'm glad for every single one of them that was there.
posted by twiggy at 11:09 AM on November 5, 2005


I saw Bodyworlds 2 in Cleveland. Last I read, 7 Cleveland attendees had volunteered to donate their bodies to the project.
posted by amro at 11:11 AM on November 5, 2005


Anyone who brings a kid to any Christian art exhibit or church should be arrested for child abuse. The last church I went into depicted a man, still alive, being crucified, with nails through his feet and hands and a crown of thorns piercing the flesh of his head. There was blood spewing forth from each of these wounds and the man was clearly suffering. The children visiting this church were clearly disturbed and running around with more than usual agitation. I stood behind one mother who was forcing her daughter to stare at this image, at one point even putting her hands to either side of the girl's face and holding her head. The mother didn't notice, that from the girl's point-of-view (and I'm not sure how I know she didn't notice, but I did, I did by golly) the view was staight on into big, pierced by nails feet. The daughter was horrified. Not only by the image, but by her mother's impending righteousness. The girl was complaing and trying to run away, but her mother just didn't get it.

Christianity is an outre and highly transgressive art project masquerading as a "religion". It is truly evil. (And I speak as someone who has some experience of the Bible in both a religious and literary context.)

Ahh, who am I fooling. I can't out absurd Faze. Nice to see you back. Very entertaining.
posted by juiceCake at 11:13 AM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


Friends, what do you think would happen if you went to your local schoolyard and exposed your penis for the "education" of the children? You would be thrown in jail, where even the most hardened cons would despise you as a child abuser. Why is this? The penis is "natural." Why should a child be any more shocked by seeing a penis than a nose? By all means, bring your children to "Body Worlds." And fathers, open your zippers at your next children's birthday party, and let it all hang out. If anyone objects, don't pay any attentions. They're probably only Christians.
posted by Faze at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2005


Faze: Are you real? Or some kind of bevetsbot?
posted by uncle harold at 12:10 PM on November 5, 2005


I saw this show when I was in Cleveland. What bugged me was how the whole thing was displayed like a circus freak show. To whit, there was one part where a three months pregnant woman had died, they had her sliced open to reveal the uterus and fetus. The way they displayed it was in this tent like structure with long draping white fabric over the walls and ceiling, and a line of fetuses in jars leading up to her.

I would have enjoyed it more if it was displayed a little more scientifically and a little less wowie we can plasticize corpses, isn't this cool!

Oh and the penises weren't that disturbing, it was the descrotumized testicles that freaked me out.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 12:14 PM on November 5, 2005


Pink Fuzzy Bunny -- I got the impression from the Toronto show that the fetuses and pregnant woman were "tented off" because it was a such a delicate subject that the exhibitors wanted to shelter it from those visitors that might want to avoid seeing it.
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:19 PM on November 5, 2005


Faze, I'm really surprised that you can't understand that nudity and children and evilness is entirely context-dependent. This is a ridiculously complicated issue that can't be decided by declaring the "dead penis" at eye level to be evil. I'm a big outspoken advocate against childhood sexual abuse, but this ain't it.
posted by purtek at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2005


Actually, more children being educated what a penis is, how it works, what it does and what is supposed to do (and not to do) would go a long way in preventing many cases of child abuse. Or rather make it a lot more likely to be reported by the victims.
posted by uncle harold at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2005


I think people are freaked out that, when we see our bodies laid bare (and flayed open), we can't ignore how fragile, and well biological, we are. It interferes with the intricate taboos and fashion we normally use to shield or egos from that reality. That Van Hagen gets people to respond so emotionally, confirms his work as art. (Displaying the figures "scientifically" would fail in this regard.)

I won't argue that he isn't a bit crazy. Many great artists have also been lunatics.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:48 PM on November 5, 2005


But if you continue to keep your children shielded from the evil natural world, it will be that much easier for daddy's buddy Ted to convince your daughter that what he does with his wiener is the natural thing, and she should keep their "little secret" like a big girl.
posted by uncle harold at 12:55 PM on November 5, 2005


I got the impression from the Toronto show that the fetuses and pregnant woman were "tented off"

It was that way at the Philadelphia show. You had to go out of your way to see the fetus room.
posted by Jon-o at 12:57 PM on November 5, 2005


Oh, and by the way,

Faze, you must be joking. If you can't tell the difference between art, science, and sexual assault, then there's something wrong with the part of your brain that compares things to eachother.
posted by Jon-o at 1:06 PM on November 5, 2005


I saw the Universe Within some months ago. One of the hired "docents" confirmed, in response to one of my questions, that at least half of the bodies had belonged to Chinese prisoners before their death. Several displays contained the body parts of children. I was disturbed by the exploitation involved in the display of bodies where the "donor" has not given, or can not give (in the case of the children), informed consent. (I understand that this is not the case with the other exhibit.) I did not see anyone who seemed upset with the exhibit when I was there but neither did I feel that it presented any substantive scientific information or insight.
posted by Morrigan at 1:19 PM on November 5, 2005


Faze, you can't possibly be for real, can you? Do you honestly believe that there is no difference between exhibitionist pedophilia and taking children to see an anatomy exhibit?

Besides, what exactly is so harmful about children seeing genitalia, other than hysteria generated by our culture's bizarre complex of fear, shame, guilt and loathing built up around the human body? Do you follow your beliefs to the logical consequence that nudists are abusing their kids, and should be thrown in prison for allowing their children to see genitalia? What about people who don't hide their nudity from their children? Should they be thrown in jail as incestuous child rapists?

You aren't a creationist are you? That would seem consistent with your absurd moral imperative to lie to children about the true nature of human life.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2005


Faze:
Friends, what do you think would happen if you went to your local schoolyard and exposed your penis for the "education" of the children? You would be thrown in jail, where even the most hardened cons would despise you as a child abuser.
So you're comparing skinless, preserved human bodies displayed in a museum where people voluntarily pay money to go and see the exhibit to a schoolyard flasher?

You've got to be kidding... I breathe the same air as you?
posted by twiggy at 2:31 PM on November 5, 2005


Friends, I'm not sure you understand the scope of the problem. According to a recent survey, nearly half of those children in our schoolyards already have penises by the time they enter the first grade. What does this say about our society?
posted by arialblack at 3:15 PM on November 5, 2005


And their penises aren't even flayed yet, arialblack! Someone call Dr Van Hagen!
posted by cactus at 5:21 PM on November 5, 2005


The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out
The ones that crawl in are lean and thin
The ones that crawl out are fat and stout
Your eyes fall in and your teeth fall out
Your brains come tumbling down your snout

Be merry my friends
Be merry.

Source
posted by emf at 6:01 PM on November 5, 2005


OH NOES!! A PENIS!! RUN!!

Seriously though, why that body part in particular? Why not a spleen, for example? Besides, is it not possible that those eight-year old girls were grossed out in general by the whole dead guy without his skin on, rather than just by what happened to be at their eye level?
posted by c13 at 6:17 PM on November 5, 2005


I'd just like to thank [expletive deleted] for finding a way to work the phrase "fucking Cathar" in to the thread.
posted by poweredbybeard at 6:26 PM on November 5, 2005


dammit!

Does anyone else keep linking to someone's profile when they mean to link to their reply?
posted by poweredbybeard at 6:27 PM on November 5, 2005


Besides, what exactly is so harmful about children seeing genitalia, other than hysteria generated by our culture's bizarre complex of fear, shame, guilt and loathing built up around the human body?

Hey, I'm sayin', walk down the street with your weenie out. See what happens. You won't be thanked, no matter how "educational" it is for the kids.

If you can't tell the difference between art, science, and sexual assault...

If you think you can tell the different between art, science, sexual assault (and entertainment, I might add) you haven't been paying attention to Western culture for the past 30 years.
posted by Faze at 7:42 PM on November 5, 2005


if prior to your death you don't make your wishes known regarding your corpse, your corpse should by default be put to some use

hello. i think it should work just the opposite. if your corpse should be put on display, or be used for other scientific pursuits, i would hope they would get consent before you die. it's simply about respect.
posted by brandz at 7:47 PM on November 5, 2005


Faze, you're not grasping the fundimentals of context, function, and intent. It looks like I'm going to have to spell this out for you like you're a child:

If I'm flashing kiddies on the street, I'm doing that for my own perverse pleasure. It's benefiting noone while I'm indulging my pedophillic fetish. That's Bad.

That activity is entirely different from say, painting a picture or forming a sculpture that celebrates the beauty of God's creation of the human body (take the Renaissance for example). That's Good.

The artistic activity is also entirely different from making doccumentary photographs or illustrations of the body for instructional or educational purposes. That's also Good.

I'm not sure how to make this clearer. You might actually have to meet me half way on this and actually use your brain a little bit.
posted by Jon-o at 8:55 PM on November 5, 2005


If you think you can tell the different between art, science, sexual assault (and entertainment, I might add) you haven't been paying attention to Western culture for the past 30 years.

Amm.. dude, speak for yourself.
posted by c13 at 8:59 PM on November 5, 2005


Faze,
I went ahead and read up on your posting history, thinking, "Who is this guy, anyway?" You don't seem to be the kind of person that I've inferred you to be from this thread.
I think we're getting our signals crossed somewhere. Lets start over.
posted by Jon-o at 9:16 PM on November 5, 2005


BodyWorlds:
When your little daughter sees her first penis, make sure it's a dead one hanging from a mutilated corpse.
posted by Faze at 6:12 AM on November 6, 2005


Faze, I'm losing you here. Are you saying that the penises the only problem you (and these children) had with the entire exhibit? If so, did you verify this theory, or was it just convenient to project your feelings onto them?

There's really no way of getting around the fact that no matter how fascinated and curious you are by the material in the exhibit, or how comfortable you are with the human body, you're still surrounded by human corpses . The kids I saw there were no more disturbed than the last time I was a funeral service ( or are genitalia the big issue there too? ). Everyone I saw at the Chicago exhibit was agitated - kids just aren't as good at masking their response. Parents need to be prepared to talk to their children about mortality, aging, and the human body if they decide to bring them to something like this - even if the kids don't ask directly - these are BIG issues no matter how old you are, and it's an critical part of the experience. It's part of the reason that these have been shown at science museums, not just regular galleries ( say what you will about Damien Hirst).
posted by arialblack at 7:48 AM on November 6, 2005


Nevermind
posted by Jon-o at 8:02 AM on November 6, 2005


Parents need to be prepared to talk to their children about mortality, aging, and the human body if they decide to bring them to something like this

Why would you bring your children to an exhibit whose ugliness, repellancy, and moral questionability forces you to desperately brief your children on mortality, aging and the human body before you go? Do you have to rub their faces in cadavers to teach them these things? There is nothing to be learned in BodyWorld that can't be learned in a child's anatomy text, or in one of those transparent women with the light up organs that you used to see in science museums. Or, if you want them to view actual viscera, have them watch one of those cable TV channels that shows actual surgeries.
There is nothing "natural" looking about the cadavers in BodyWorld. Looking dessicated and nothing like actual organs in a living, or recently dead body, they are a poor teaching tool -- or at least as artificial looking as a plastic model of a body full of organs.
The whole show is phony. The German guy who puts it on does not love your children. He is an exhibitionist who uses the cover of "science" to transgress the innocence of children, the uses of common custom in matters of death, and the dignity of those who voluntarily or involuntarily have had their bodies committed to his care. Why would you hand your children's precious little minds over to care of the highly dubious invidual?
posted by Faze at 12:54 PM on November 6, 2005


Faze, why do you hate penises? Was your dad killed by one?

Seriously, why limit your children's anatomical exposure to abstracted reproductions and 2d videos? How can it be phony when these are real bodies - is the exhibitor just throwing organs in any old way, or creating chimerae? Aren't you glad the 'German guy' doesn't love your children - I'd be freaked out if he expressed a desire for mine, to be sure. How he feels about kids hardly affects the display - and what's wrong with visiting the show yourself, and then deciding if your kids can handling going along without warping their fragile little minds.

Anyway, it's got to be better than learning anatomy via Britney Spears videos.
posted by Sparx at 1:40 PM on November 6, 2005



Saw this in London, good show, really interesting. The "big shock" at the time was the mother and fetus. I see that the US shock seems to be "penii".

I can only hope that the (usually) religious fanatics don't stop normal people from going to something this interesting.
posted by lundman at 4:52 PM on November 6, 2005


I too saw it in London and loved the whole show (peni, feti, and all). Effing Amazing. I never had had any interest in Anatomy or Human Physiology in school, but I was fascinated (for hours) by the exhibit.
posted by shoepal at 9:36 PM on November 6, 2005


The exhibit is so in-depth and large (it took me ~45 minutes to go through it all); it's hard to focus on just genitalia. Unless, of course, you're Faze; but I digress..

It's weird and overwhelming at first (muscle looked like corned beef to me); but I got used to it within 5-10 minutes. The tweener-age girls I was with didn't have any problems during or after the visit.

What's funny is people have asked me about this exhibit and what I've recounted to them sounded more macabre than it actually was.
posted by xena at 5:41 AM on November 7, 2005


I'm so jealous of you all. I won't say Raleigh is provincial, but the most controversial exhibits we've had here are Portraits of the Presidents and History of the Quilt.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:11 AM on November 7, 2005


There is nothing "natural" looking about the cadavers in BodyWorld. Looking dessicated and nothing like actual organs in a living, or recently dead body, they are a poor teaching tool -- or at least as artificial looking as a plastic model of a body full of organs.

I intensely disagree. The veins and arteries, for example, were more intricate than any model or drawing I've ever seen in bodies - I was particularly fascinated with the capillaries in the face. The muscles were also much more compelling than a picture.

Awesome exhibit (saw it in Chicago). I would go again if it came back. Well worth the price of admission!
posted by agregoli at 8:29 AM on November 7, 2005


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