Posted by: Ali | August 28, 2009

El Cuerpo Humano

So I, despite all odds, went to go see an exhibition last night.  The english translation is “Bodies – The Exhibition” and yes, it’s the world famous exhibition that’s been travelling all over over the world and uses real, human dead bodies.  It’s displaying in Lima until September 20th, and it was packed.

I don’t have any pictures to post for two reasons.  First, we weren’t allowed to bring in our cameras.  So I started googling for images I could borrow to post up here, and then I realized – no.  No icky human corpses on my blog.

Anyways, so I didn’t really know much about the exhibit before I entered.  So I went in, and, besides all the icky human bodies with internal organs on display for all to see, I noticed some strange things.  First of all, I thought that all the bodies looked Asian, although it was hard to tell without skin or hair, but they all didn’t have eyelids… oh I’m explaining this badly but if you want to see for yourself look at this picture.  So I asked Rebecca, and she said that she had heard that all the bodies were Chinese.  The other thing that I noticed was that they were all male.  All of the whole bodies at least, there was a small section on reproductive systems that had one set of female junk, one set of female hips and pelvis, one set of breats.  I have a sneaking suspicion that there was only this one woman in the whole show, and she was cut up into really small bits.

So then, when I went home, I did a bit of research.  Apparently there were protests all over the United States from when the exhibit was showing there.  There is a lot of controversy over how the bodies were obtained, and whether the people on display donated their bodies or whether they were ill-gotten.  Some critics have raised the issue of there being a rather widespread black market of organs and bodies in China.  There are allegations that the Chinese government has been rounding up members of the Falun Gong (which is similar to a religion, more like a philosophy on life) and putting them in death camps where they harvest their organs.  Some people have suggested that the bodies on display are likely members of the Falun Gong.  There have been protests, the Florida State Anatomical Board got involved and tried to shut down the Tampa exhibit, and there have been similar backlashes all over the world where the exhibit has gone.

Most interestingly, the worst difficulty the exhibit has faced was when it went into Venezuela.  They got shut down by Customs who contested the fact that the exhibit actually declared the bodies as “plastic,” while they advertise them as “real human bodies.”   They ordered forensic tests and Customs said that if the bodies turned out to be real, they would get charged with Customs fraud, and if they were fake, they would get charged with false advertising.  After finding out that the bodies were real, Customs asked for death certificates and declarations of consent to use the bodies.  I couldn’t find out if they actually could provide the documentation, but any how, President Hugo Chavez shut down the exhibit for “moral decomposition.”


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