So, have you been to this ‘Bodies Dublin’ exhibition then? Are you planning on going? It’s the expo of human cadavers that have been preserved in a very specific way and displayed to show various internal organs, muscles, blood system etc. Way too gory for you? Appalled by the immoral nature of it all?
When I read about this I thought, ‘Cool.. that might be worth a little lookey’. I’m a scientist by trade and I’ve always been a bit of a geek when it comes to biology and how things work, why things are one way and not another and how everything fits into it’s own little place in the grand scheme of things. But I’m wondering now if I have any issues with this exhibition, that I’d have have to pay in to see it and just how it was put together, what it represents and all that stuff;
The bodies in this expo are claimed to have been sourced by the Dalian Medical University Plastination Laboratories, which is in China, and the spokesperson and Chief Medical Director for the expo is Professor Emeritus Roy Glover of Michigan University. It is claimed that all the bodies in the expo died of natural causes. In fact they highlight that in some cases, it’s clear to see what the person died from due to the state of various internal organs on display. But there has been issues raised that the bodies may come from Chinese prisons. China, China, China – why don’t I like the sound of that? Maybe something to do with the country’s appalling record on Human Rights. In fact last year the expo was investigated by New York’s Chief Legal Officer and because the organisers couldn’t disprove that the people died from natural causes or that they didn’t come from Chinese prisons, all ticket holders were eligible for a refund. And then there’s the whole ethical issue of whether its right to pay in to see an exhibition whereby human cadavers are used as a form of entertainment – even if the organisers state that it is aimed primarily at medical students to aid the study of anatomy and as a teching aid in general to highlight the dangers of smoking, cholesterol etc and to show how a healthly lifestyle is reflected in our bodies.
There’s a part of me that is naturally curious and wants to go to this. If you’ve ever been near a dead person, you’ll know about that thought that you can’t get rid of, the thought that maybe just hours beforehand the lifeless, decomposing, ashen faced body was just as alive as you, maybe laughing and joking or crying or shouting, that there was once a hearty character beaming out from behind those now closed forever eyes. It’s always been something that’s made me wonder about how delicate life can be to see someone transformed in this way because of death. So, I know that if I went to this expo, I’d be wondering who the person was, what did they do in life, what kind of person were they. When I look at a painting in a gallery, I wonder how the artist chose his subject, was he sad or was it one of his favourite things? When I go to a museum and stand in front of an ancient sword or a piece of jewellery belonging to royalty, I wonder what tales they could tell from hundreds of years ago. So, maybe what I should be wondering is whether the people that once owned these bodies should be allowed the privacy and respect of a burial plot and a headstone.