Professor Gunther von Hagens, or rather, Dr. Death recently opened his BODYWORLDS exhibit at O2 in London. Its deeply macabre stuff, which at first may seem horrifying but then can actually be fascinating, educational and even entertaining.
I rang my sister to tell her about the chilling traveling show, of how Dr.D (who amazingly looks every inch the part) took corpses, flayed and used “plastination“(which he pioneered in the 70’s) to make them come alive by putting them in life-like poses, like the chess match as seen in the photo above, or a man riding a horse, both holding out their brains for us to compare.
I have to admit that while I find the whole spectacle incredibly disturbing (the idea of a pregnant woman and her baby in womb, gutted out for all to see is especially disconcerting), I am not put off to visit the exhibit and plan to go when I am next in London.
Because though one can see it as gruesome, it is the reality of our anatomy – and as a writer for the Times succinctly puts it:
“….the unique view von Hagen’s corpses offer into the reality of our human make-up, means that squirmishness soon gives way to fascinating.
Even more beautiful than the corpses, are the cross-sectional slices. Inspired by 3D MRI scans, von Hagens has cut wafer thin slices through hands, lungs, brains. The plastic gives them a translucent quality, which when they’re easily distinguishable, like the bones of a hand, look like colourful x-rays. When they’re more abstract they bring to mind amber fossils. They also tell some powerful stories. Smokers should pay particular attention to the cross sections of two lungs, one healthy, the other damaged by nicotine. While the brain flabby with Alzheimers is a graphic depiction of the relationship between the functioning of our minds and our physical bodies.”
Here’s an interesting interview with the good doctor on the BBC from 2002.