Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Gunther von Hagens’ dead (1994 – present)
There are more than 10,000 people in the world who have signed away their body to a german man called Gunther von Hagens. The plan is that when they die he will preserve their corpses in various states of dissection, arrange their limbs into different poses and stick them in one of his ‘body worlds’ exhibitions for people to gawp at and try pose for photos next to without security seeing.
The people are preserved through a process called plastination, which replaces water and fat molecules with plastics. This means that the dead people don’t smell or decay. Below is a picture of the 'hardening and posing' process in action.
The first exhibition was in Tokyo in 1995 and there have been many more since all over the world. Their aim is to educate people about the human body, with the hope that this will lead to better health awareness. For example, people with liver cirrhosis, artificial heart valves and prosthetic limbs have all been exhibited. The bodies are also in various states of unpeeling, as to show different body systems.
Interestingly, Hagens and his team have been accused of presenting the dead people in gender stereotyped ways. It’s been noted that the males are shown in ‘heroic’ roles and females in more ‘passive’ ways. Examples of males include The Rearing Horse Rider, The Fencer, The Runner and The Chess Player, as opposed to The Figure Skater, The kneeling Lady and The Yoga Lady. Personally if I was one of Hagens’ 10,000 walking-plastinated I’d want to make sure that the preservation of my body wasn’t also going to preserve out-dated gender stereotypes along the way. I really don’t want give the wrong impression when in two thousand years aliens come to a desolate planet earth and resurrect Hagens’ army.
If you're interested in what someone like Hagens might look like here's a picture of him and his largest ever plastinated corpse. To join in visit www.koerperspende.de/en.