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June 25, 2009 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Dead people having sex Immoral? Illegal? Shocking? Gunther von Hagens latest exhibit in London is again not without controversy. His website is here
posted by halekon (55 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
He's the guy whose corpses come from a mysterious Chinese factory, right?
posted by grobstein at 2:03 PM on June 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


The article says the people gave their consent, but did the consent really cover reverse cowgirl for eternity?
posted by peggynature at 2:06 PM on June 25, 2009 [15 favorites]


Of course, corpses aren't people.
posted by xmutex at 2:07 PM on June 25, 2009


Dead sexy.
posted by xod at 2:07 PM on June 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


This guy has no limits. Just wants attention
posted by EdwardFresco at 2:08 PM on June 25, 2009


Pass.
posted by jquinby at 2:08 PM on June 25, 2009


He's the guy whose corpses come from a mysterious Chinese factory, right?

No, that's one of the knock-off guys, who not only used bodies from Chinese prisoners, but whose own preservation techniques led to...um...leakage and dripping when the exhibit was up in Northern California.

Von Hagens is the original. When his exhibit came to Los Angeles, they did extensive research into the sources of the bodies, including matching all of the death certificates with the consent forms and everything.

His exhibits are amazing, by the way. I stumbled into one more or less by accident a decade ago when I was in Vienna, and took my dad and significant other a few years ago when the exhibit was shown in Los Angeles.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:12 PM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dead people having sex

Also known as "Marriage."

/Rodney Dangerfield
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:13 PM on June 25, 2009 [11 favorites]


That's some vigorous action: her kneecap's gone and fallen off.
posted by boo_radley at 2:13 PM on June 25, 2009


Really, who under the age of 50 is shocked anymore by anything cultural?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:14 PM on June 25, 2009


"Well, I DID say this is how I wanted to spend my afterlife, but, I'm not sure I needed to see all the, well, pink bits..."
posted by yeloson at 2:15 PM on June 25, 2009


peggynature: "The article says the people gave their consent, but did the consent really cover reverse cowgirl for eternity?"

Reverse cowgirl if you're lucky. If you're not? This happens.
posted by boo_radley at 2:18 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


These photos lead inexorably to one conclusion: if you thought that walking in on your parents having sex was traumatic, be damn glad that you're not Clark Kent.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:18 PM on June 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


I know a lot of people who wouldn't mind dying while having sex, but no one who wants to die and then have sex.
posted by tommasz at 2:21 PM on June 25, 2009


I doubt that they mind.

As far as I'm concerned this guy can do whatever he wants. Body Worlds is definitely in the running for the most astounding thing I've ever seen.
posted by cmoj at 2:25 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:26 PM on June 25, 2009


I was hoping that this was going to include Farrah Fawcett.
posted by flarbuse at 2:27 PM on June 25, 2009


Can dead people have sex? They can be posed as if they are having sex, obviously. And I really doubt they will be in that position for eternity. I'd give it a decade or two before the novelty of this stuff wears off and they are cremated or buried.
posted by JJ86 at 2:28 PM on June 25, 2009


One more thing to make extremely clear on that consent form.
posted by gurple at 2:34 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, we are *so* having another meetup when this one comes to town.

Ironmouth, a lot of people are shocked by this, in the sense that they are shocked by formerly-animate humans without skin. It does require a strong stomach and a fascination for the human body. But if you can get past the grossness, it really is such an amazing learning experience. I walked out of that exhibit with a renewed respect for my body as a complete, complex machine, but also my mind and spirit, and really, just the wondrous process that is life.
posted by sarahnade at 2:36 PM on June 25, 2009


You know those stories where you sign a contract with the devil but there's a twist?
posted by fleetmouse at 2:39 PM on June 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


He's the guy whose corpses come from a mysterious Chinese factory, right?

No, that's one of the knock-off guys, who not only used bodies from Chinese prisoners, but whose own preservation techniques led to...um...leakage and dripping when the exhibit was up in Northern California.


No. Not exactly.

Wikipedia says he got an injunction against Der Spiegel, preventing them from making the accusation, but there were some decidedly shady circumstances going on, and his former no-questions-asked reliance on bodies from the Chinese government deserved the suspicion it got.

Nevertheless, Body Worlds was really freaking cool.
posted by kosem at 2:42 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does this at all involve Michael Jackson?
posted by malaprohibita at 2:48 PM on June 25, 2009


I was hoping that this was going to include Farrah Fawcett.

Too soon (for a couple reasons).
posted by gman at 2:52 PM on June 25, 2009


Does this at all involve Michael Jackson?

even sooner.
posted by gman at 2:52 PM on June 25, 2009


Wikipedia says he got an injunction against Der Spiegel, preventing them from making the accusation, but there were some decidedly shady circumstances going on, and his former no-questions-asked reliance on bodies from the Chinese government deserved the suspicion it got.

But apparently that only involved seven bodies, which were returned to China once the accusation came to light, and at least he does have a well-documented donor program now. The numerous copycat exhibits, like "BODIES: The Exhibition," most definitely do use "unclaimed corpses" from China.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:54 PM on June 25, 2009


My first FPP
posted by kosem at 2:57 PM on June 25, 2009


This must be the "O" face.

But seriously, wow do I ever love Dr. von Hagens. Mad science! No concerns for public taste! Flayed corpses! The man is after my own heart (quite possibly literally).
posted by FatherDagon at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this the definitive Michael Jackson post?
posted by xmutex at 3:07 PM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is like a real life Rule 34. I wish I could forget the photo in that first link, but it's destined to become nightmare fuel in some future sleepness night.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:09 PM on June 25, 2009


crap, flarbuse... that was really in poor taste...
posted by HuronBob at 3:10 PM on June 25, 2009


I am a huge fan of Body Worlds and van Hagens. The man is amazingly creepy but is also first-class showman of the sort rarely seen since the 19th century.

The exhibits themselves are marvelous, both in and of themselves and as opportunities to observe squeamishness in the general public. If you ever have the opportunity, I can personally recommend going to see Body Worlds with a tasteless, didactic and slightly drunk physician given to loudly making comparisons between the tensile strength of certain portions of the anatomy and cooked asparagus.
posted by xthlc at 3:13 PM on June 25, 2009


My wishes for disposal of my corpse in order of preference:
  1. Have my friends get totally wasted and then "kidnap" my body and reenact Last Weekend at Bernie's. Whatever happens after that doesn't matter.
  2. Have Gunther von Hagens plastinate me and arrange my "remains" having sex with a female specimen.
  3. Give it to that one research institute that deposits bodies somewhere in the woods to study how it decomposes.
  4. Funeral fire, come on baby, light my fire
  5. Simple cremation. Spread my ashes at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, at the corners of Milwaukee & North Avenue/Damen in Chicago and in the Ilmenau River in L√ľneburg while standing in front of Pons
  6. Fold me in half, stuff me into a potato sack and throw me into an unmarked hole in the ground.

posted by chillmost at 3:24 PM on June 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


7. Put a scary look on my face, raise my arms and make my hands like claws, then lean me against the inside of the closed closet door.
posted by fatbird at 3:32 PM on June 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is like a Cliver Barker story.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:48 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw Body Worlds in Charlotte a couple of years ago, and they had a pregnant woman cut open so you could see the baby. This sex thing is a least two levels below that on the creepy meter.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 4:05 PM on June 25, 2009


With my luck, if I donate my body, they'll have me getting a digital protate exam from a dead doctor, a stethoscope hanging around his or her shoulders. Or maybe getting my credit card declined by a dead shopclerk.
posted by Danf at 4:06 PM on June 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


I want to be posed like the dancers in the Smooth Criminal video.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 4:15 PM on June 25, 2009


Hey, there should be a NSFM1 on this FPP!

1not safe for mortuaries
posted by davejay at 4:18 PM on June 25, 2009


I used to have the organ I wanted to donate explicitly listed on my driver's license: my testicles. Not just to be funny either. I was actually thinking that if they have testicular transplants, then maybe I could posthumously father some children, then stick the new guy (the guy with my balls) with all the bills and hassle of raising my kids. There has GOT to be some kind of bizarre B-horror movie that could be derived from this idea. Someone run with it!
posted by jamstigator at 4:28 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did actually visit one of Gunther's exhibits in England.

The pictures or videos one can find on the net just don't depict the beauty, elegance and tact used to display the bodies. One would expect a gruesome encounter with a corpse, maybe some odd disturbing smell (there's none to be perceived whatsoever) but in fact it's a lot more like watching a sculpture, yet knowing you are watching a statue that was once alive.

It's really an odd sensation one cannot possibly have experienced before. These bodies scream life, every bit of them. Suspended midair, they still look alive and energetic, yet frail by knowing they really are humans. No statues I have ever seen before elicited the words delicate and frail in my mind like these. I couldn't help feeling a sensation of awe and respect, yet emphaty for these ...defining them statues possibily doesn't do them, again, justice. It's an human being, asleep.

In one display, one could see just the our blood vessels system, a very delicate network that rivals in beauty and complexity any humanly conceivable abstraction, such as the internet, much more of a display of a fractal than any vegetable, unless you are expecting apparent immediate repetition of a single basic scheme.

Internal organs are also displayed in a fashion that suggest wanting to know more, knowing that this odd thing really is inside of you and is keeping you alive.

Yet If you are expecting a meeting with death, you may be more impressed by Gunther's instructional dissections, as they may appear colder and schematic, while the itinerant exhibits don't show any of this apparent coldness.
posted by elpapacito at 4:59 PM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw Body Works (or was it Worlds?) in Baltimore last year. I'm normally rather squeamish, but this exhibit was waay cool -- piqued my scientific curiosity and my squick-meter was nil. I saw the prego, but no copu.
posted by JimDe at 5:37 PM on June 25, 2009


Have my friends get totally wasted and then "kidnap" my body and reenact Last Weekend at Bernie's. Whatever happens after that doesn't matter.

Tomorrow, I'm going to ask someone in our Trusts and Estates department if this is workable. Letcha know.
posted by kosem at 7:00 PM on June 25, 2009


I saw Body Works in London a few years ago, and I have to say I thought it was for the most part, well, very tacky. The more scientific displays, the blood vessels and nervous systems were interesting and I could see the value there. But then you'd get to one with the skin flayed like a cloak riding a broom stick a la Harry Potter, or a couple of corpses playing soccer. Tactful? Really?

I was kind of ok and amused by it until I got to the section with bodies of children, and babies. How does a child give proper consent? The clincher was the flayed pregnant woman. She and the baby had to have died very close to full term, and I realised that I was gawking at someone's very personal tragedy.

Not squicked, just very very sad.
posted by arha at 7:22 PM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Doesn't bother me at all. Honestly, I think that would be a really nifty way to be preserved after I die. ESPECIALLY if it makes people uncomfortable to look at.
posted by strixus at 8:08 PM on June 25, 2009


First time in a long time that nobody's said exactly what I'm thinking (on preview, arha comes closest), so I coughed up the fin.

Mrs. Spatula and I took in the the tour when it came through Denver a while back. It was midsummer, semi-crowded, and the museum hosting it was saving money on air conditioning. There was no smell, but the mugginess made it a little creepy.

It was interesting enough. I recall that, in addition to the various disassembled zombies, there were tanks holding "frozen" networks of blood vessels from the lungs, which I liked.

But the next day, I recalled that the base upon which each plasticorpse stood bore a brushed-stainless card bearing the signature "Gunther von Hagens".

Since then I've never really shaken the feeling that he's some kind of wanna-be serial killer.
posted by Rat Spatula at 8:40 PM on June 25, 2009


I agree with arha, the overall feeling I got from the Body Works exhibition I saw was exploitation, regardless of whether or not people gave their consent to be exploited (and some of them clearly didn't). The cost of the entrance fee alone was exploitative. I would suggest sneaking in if at all possible. By all means donate to the museum or exhibition space, but avoid giving money to Gunther who is already quite rich enough.

This latest attempt to court controversy is par for the course, that is to say ethically dubious.

I would still recommend seeing it, as it is a spectacle. Just don't expect it to lift your heart or enrich your soul.

I do like the sound of seeing it 'with a tasteless, didactic and slightly drunk physician given to loudly making comparisons between the tensile strength of certain portions of the anatomy and cooked asparagus'. That would be fun!
posted by asok at 1:31 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This is like a Cliver Barker story."
"Since then I've never really shaken the feeling that he's some kind of wanna-be serial killer."
This is the film you're looking for.

I've seen Body Works. Once I got over the shock of being surrounded by corpses, I was overcome by an odd kind of awe. Even in the really bizarrely sculpted cases (a skateboarder with his head sliced into sections) what struck me was the body itself -- not just the bodies of the dead but the sense of how my own body works. "Oh," I'd say to myself, "so if you cut me open down the sternum, my ribcage would bend there." The most impressive sight was a complete human circulatory system. Just blood vessels down to the capillaries and nothing else. I have no idea how he was able to be that painstaking in his dissection.

If you haven't been, go.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:54 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nah, this is the movie your looking for.
posted by arha at 4:55 AM on June 26, 2009


Dead bodies are not people. There is no one left to be disrespected. We are simply organisms so when we die our bodies are just decaying biomass. I understand the impulse to anthropomorphize the remains, but my vote is cast on the side of Body Works being an amazing exhibition of the human anatomy. We are perfectly okay with medical students (and other students of human anatomy) dissecting remains to learn about them, so why shouldn't every person have the privilege?

And, yeah, I like the price of "free", but I'm not sure that's a sustainable price. I mean, I pay for my membership in the Science Museum, so why not pay for this?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:58 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


If he really wanted to make it more controversial, he'd have made it two dead dudes.
posted by orme at 6:54 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dead bodies are not people.

Is there any culture in the world that doesn't have some sort of ritual that acknowledges the special relationship between a person's body and who they were? It's not logic, but it's human.

I understand why people would want their bodies to be part of this, but it's harder for me to see the coolness of if it were my child, my brother, my aunt... And the idea of this happening to their bodies without their consent is beyond the pale disrespectful of their families.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2009


hey, if Dr. von Hagens is someone who would have been a serial killer in another manifestation, then i'm all for what he turned out to be instead. would that all people with an obsessive need to see the insides of dead humans would find a legitimate artistic occupation such as this.
posted by RedEmma at 10:37 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post reminds me of this picture, somehow.
posted by Lush at 3:27 PM on June 26, 2009


Latest in : Jackson to be plastinated
posted by elpapacito at 11:06 AM on June 27, 2009


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