Monday, April 12, 2010

S.O.S.


When "Body Works", the collection of posed plasticised human bodies, first hit the Ontario Science Centre a few years ago, it made me uncomfortable although it was carefully marketed as a science exhibit. To me it looked like an art show. At the time though it wouldn't have occurred to me to question the Science Centre.

But now the science/art line has been crossed and I think we need to think about it. A similar show of plasticized human bodies is coming to Niagara. This time it is being advertised as "artistic, entertaining...also educational" and a real money maker for the area.

A more truthful marketing ploy, I suppose, but still very disquieting because it is literally an art exhibit of soulless humans.

Suppose a local sculptor managed to find a number of dying people and offered to pay them for the use of their bodies after death. Suppose the people were in need of the money and so agreed. Suppose the sculptor draped their naked, dead bodies across frames that made them seem as if they were engaged in an activity of some kind so that we could see the miraculous way the skin works to cover our internal organs and muscles. It isn't likely that many of us would go and see this art show. Because we might have known one of the people? Because it smelled? Actually it doesn't matter because the police would close it down.

I believe the adage that art reflects society. We've become so desensitized to death, especially death that happens far away to people we don't know, that we too are in danger of losing our souls.

Pretty and sanitized as it may be, this art show smells.

Actually it reeks to high heaven.

8 comments:

lynne said...

Amen Sister! I have had trouble with this from the get go.. and yes, in the sanctity of the Science Centre.. well... am I going to argue with Science?? Next I will have a Jesus fish on my car..snort. But I CAN speak out about art and entertainment and money making... but I don't have to.... you did! Thanks!

The Episcopagan said...

Thanks Lynne. "The sanctity of the Science Centre" is a god way of describing it. The place is a sacred cow and they opened a door that can't be closed again. At least people are talking about it.

Anonymous said...

Having finally, and just in time, ventured out to see the Body Exhibition in Niagara Falls, I now feel compelled and able to comment on it. I must say, I went with a little trepidation, but also bolstered by the fact that I had been unable to obtain too much more than positive comments about the exhibit prior to going. So this is what I noted:
The entire exhibit was done in a respectful, scientific way. All displays of organs, circulatory systems and other body parts were encased in glass cases. The whole body exhibits, which were poised only in athletic poses, and which numbered (at this particular exhibition) only about six, were under the watchful eye of security staff. There were a fair number of people viewing the exhibit, which included men and women, many in family groups with children. All behaved in an appropriate manner, speaking in hushed tones, and observing with what I would only describe as wonder. The accompanying audio tour was done very clinically and educationally.
Nowhere did I see, hear or read in the comments binders that were available at the end of the tour, any disrespect for the display. There was no "side show" aspect to the exhibition. I've personally seen more of that tendency in funeral homes, where often garish makeup is applied to the corpses and "viewers" comment on how well Aunt Edna looks. There was no blood, guts or gore. Everything was clean and very professionally presented.
Would I want to see or know that someone that I love was on display? Probably not! Nor would I want to see a loved one in an autopsy or as a cadaver in a med school biology dissection class, but that has more to do with the emotional attachment.
So.......if you would go to be "entertained" or titillated, my suggestion would be to save your money. I doubt very much that it will happen at this particular exhibit. Nor, in my estimation, would anyone view any part of it as art.
If you are a person that is at all squeamish about looking at such things as the heart or muscle tissue etc, leave this off of your things-to-do list. You might possibly be affected.
But if you have a genuine interest in the structure and internal workings of the human body, then by all means, try to avail yourself of this unique opportunity. You will,
undoubtedly, come away, as I and my friends did, with a new respect and not a little awe, of the wonder of the human condition. The body is, after all, just the vessel for the essence of the person. Once that essence is gone, and provided that the vessel is treated with respect, there is much to be learned from those that so thoughtfully donated their bodies to science.
Just my opinion.....

Anonymous said...

Having finally, and just in time, ventured out to see the Body Exhibition in Niagara Falls, I now feel compelled and able to comment on it. I must say, I went with a little trepidation, but also bolstered by the fact that I had been unable to obtain too much more than positive comments about the exhibit prior to going. So this is what I noted:
The entire exhibit was done in a respectful, scientific way. All displays of organs, circulatory systems and other body parts were encased in glass cases. The whole body exhibits, which were poised only in athletic poses, and which numbered (at this particular exhibition) only about six, were under the watchful eye of security staff. There were a fair number of people viewing the exhibit, which included men and women, many in family groups with children. All behaved in an appropriate manner, speaking in hushed tones, and observing with what I would only describe as wonder. The accompanying audio tour was done very clinically and educationally.
Nowhere did I see, hear or read in the comments binders that were available at the end of the tour, any disrespect for the display. There was no "side show" aspect to the exhibition. I've personally seen more of that tendency in funeral homes, where often garish makeup is applied to the corpses and "viewers" comment on how well Aunt Edna looks. There was no blood, guts or gore. Everything was clean and very professionally presented.
Would I want to see or know that someone that I love was on display? Probably not! Nor would I want to see a loved one in an autopsy or as a cadaver in a med school biology dissection class, but that has more to do with the emotional attachment.
So.......if you would go to be "entertained" or titillated, my suggestion would be to save your money. I doubt very much that it will happen at this particular exhibit. Nor, in my estimation, would anyone view any part of it as art.
If you are a person that is at all squeamish about looking at such things as the heart or muscle tissue etc, leave this off of your things-to-do list. You might possibly be affected.
But if you have a genuine interest in the structure and internal workings of the human body, then by all means, try to avail yourself of this unique opportunity. You will,
undoubtedly, come away, as I and my friends did, with a new respect and not a little awe, of the wonder of the human condition. The body is, after all, just the vessel for the essence of the person. Once that essence is gone, and provided that the vessel is treated with respect, there is much to be learned from those that so thoughtfully donated their bodies to science.
Just my opinion.....

Anonymous said...

Having finally, and just in time, ventured out to see the Body Exhibition in Niagara Falls, I now feel compelled and able to comment on it. I must say, I went with a little trepidation, but also bolstered by the fact that I had been unable to obtain too much more than positive comments about the exhibit prior to going. So this is what I noted:
The entire exhibit was done in a respectful, scientific way. All displays of organs, circulatory systems and other body parts were encased in glass cases. The whole body exhibits, which were poised only in athletic poses, and which numbered (at this particular exhibition) only about six, were under the watchful eye of security staff. There were a fair number of people viewing the exhibit, which included men and women, many in family groups with children. All behaved in an appropriate manner, speaking in hushed tones, and observing with what I would only describe as wonder. The accompanying audio tour was done very clinically and educationally.
Nowhere did I see, hear or read in the comments binders that were available at the end of the tour, any disrespect for the display. There was no "side show" aspect to the exhibition. I've personally seen more of that tendency in funeral homes, where often garish makeup is applied to the corpses and "viewers" comment on how well Aunt Edna looks. There was no blood, guts or gore. Everything was clean and very professionally presented.
Would I want to see or know that someone that I love was on display? Probably not! Nor would I want to see a loved one in an autopsy or as a cadaver in a med school biology dissection class, but that has more to do with the emotional attachment.
So.......if you would go to be "entertained" or titillated, my suggestion would be to save your money. I doubt very much that it will happen at this particular exhibit. Nor, in my estimation, would anyone view any part of it as art.
If you are a person that is at all squeamish about looking at such things as the heart or muscle tissue etc, leave this off of your things-to-do list. You might possibly be affected.
But if you have a genuine interest in the structure and internal workings of the human body, then by all means, try to avail yourself of this unique opportunity. You will,
undoubtedly, come away, as I and my friends did, with a new respect and not a little awe, of the wonder of the human condition. The body is, after all, just the vessel for the essence of the person. Once that essence is gone, and provided that the vessel is treated with respect, there is much to be learned from those that so thoughtfully donated their bodies to science.
Just my opinion.....

Anonymous said...

Having finally, and just in time, ventured out to see the Body Exhibition in Niagara Falls, I now feel compelled and able to comment on it. I must say, I went with a little trepidation, but also bolstered by the fact that I had been unable to obtain too much more than positive comments about the exhibit prior to going. So this is what I noted:
The entire exhibit was done in a respectful, scientific way. All displays of organs, circulatory systems and other body parts were encased in glass cases. The whole body exhibits, which were poised only in athletic poses, and which numbered (at this particular exhibition) only about six, were under the watchful eye of security staff. There were a fair number of people viewing the exhibit, which included men and women, many in family groups with children. All behaved in an appropriate manner, speaking in hushed tones, and observing with what I would only describe as wonder. The accompanying audio tour was done very clinically and educationally.
Nowhere did I see, hear or read in the comments binders that were available at the end of the tour, any disrespect for the display. There was no "side show" aspect to the exhibition. I've personally seen more of that tendency in funeral homes, where often garish makeup is applied to the corpses and "viewers" comment on how well Aunt Edna looks. There was no blood, guts or gore. Everything was clean and very professionally presented.
Would I want to see or know that someone that I love was on display? Probably not! Nor would I want to see a loved one in an autopsy or as a cadaver in a med school biology dissection class, but that has more to do with the emotional attachment.
So.......if you would go to be "entertained" or titillated, my suggestion would be to save your money. I doubt very much that it will happen at this particular exhibit. Nor, in my estimation, would anyone view any part of it as art.
If you are a person that is at all squeamish about looking at such things as the heart or muscle tissue etc, leave this off of your things-to-do list. You might possibly be affected.
But if you have a genuine interest in the structure and internal workings of the human body, then by all means, try to avail yourself of this unique opportunity. You will,
undoubtedly, come away, as I and my friends did, with a new respect and not a little awe, of the wonder of the human condition. The body is, after all, just the vessel for the essence of the person. Once that essence is gone, and provided that the vessel is treated with respect, there is much to be learned from those that so thoughtfully donated their bodies to science.
Just my opinion.....

Anonymous said...

Having finally, and just in time, ventured out to see the Body Exhibition in Niagara Falls, I now feel compelled and able to comment on it. I must say, I went with a little trepidation, but also bolstered by the fact that I had been unable to obtain too much more than positive comments about the exhibit prior to going. So this is what I noted:
The entire exhibit was done in a respectful, scientific way. All displays of organs, circulatory systems and other body parts were encased in glass cases. The whole body exhibits, which were poised only in athletic poses, and which numbered (at this particular exhibition) only about six, were under the watchful eye of security staff. There were a fair number of people viewing the exhibit, which included men and women, many in family groups with children. All behaved in an appropriate manner, speaking in hushed tones, and observing with what I would only describe as wonder. The accompanying audio tour was done very clinically and educationally.
Nowhere did I see, hear or read in the comments binders that were available at the end of the tour, any disrespect for the display. There was no "side show" aspect to the exhibition. I've personally seen more of that tendency in funeral homes, where often garish makeup is applied to the corpses and "viewers" comment on how well Aunt Edna looks. There was no blood, guts or gore. Everything was clean and very professionally presented.
Would I want to see or know that someone that I love was on display? Probably not! Nor would I want to see a loved one in an autopsy or as a cadaver in a med school biology dissection class, but that has more to do with the emotional attachment.
So.......if you would go to be "entertained" or titillated, my suggestion would be to save your money. I doubt very much that it will happen at this particular exhibit. Nor, in my estimation, would anyone view any part of it as art.
If you are a person that is at all squeamish about looking at such things as the heart or muscle tissue etc, leave this off of your things-to-do list. You might possibly be affected.
But if you have a genuine interest in the structure and internal workings of the human body, then by all means, try to avail yourself of this unique opportunity. You will,
undoubtedly, come away, as I and my friends did, with a new respect and not a little awe, of the wonder of the human condition. The body is, after all, just the vessel for the essence of the person. Once that essence is gone, and provided that the vessel is treated with respect, there is much to be learned from those that so thoughtfully donated their bodies to science.
Just my opinion.....

The Episcopagan said...

Thanks for your comment, Jane. I know you wanted to see the exhibit so I'm glad that you had a chance to go.

I was glad to read that so much of the show was of organs and systems of the body.

I did feel that your comment that you would 'probably' not want one of your family members on display was telling.

If the body is just the 'vessel for the essence of the person' it shouldn't matter whose vessel is on display.

The 'emotional component' and the fact that the viewer does not feel it for the Body Works bodies is exactly what scares me about this exhibit.

To me 'Only' six bodies is six bodies too many.

Thanks for this great comment.