'Bodies' raises questions

July 30, 2008
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"Premier cannot independenty verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons..."

So say the presenters of "Bodies...the Exhibition," the controversial show--featuring cadavers, body parts, and organs--being presented here at Claypool Court. And they are saying it only after New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo came after them.

This week, Nuvo Newsweekly published a statement saying it refused to sponsor or promote the event because the individuals whose bodies are being used did not consent.

I'm interested in your thoughts on the matter.

I'm also interested in a mummy named Demitrios, who is part of the "To Live Forever" exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. As far as I know, Demitrois and his peers didn't give their consent to having their bodies on display in museums.

Is time the only real difference between the two?
  • Hi, Lou--
    Your comparison can’t be dismissed lightly; there is no doubt that the display of mummified human remains from antiquity may be seen to be controversial. For example, in 1970 president Anwar Sadat banned their display in the Egyptian Museum. They went back on view in 1995. It’s important to note, however, that ancient Egyptian human remains are shrouded from view in the exhibition “To Live Forever”, and the decoration enveloping them is what is on presentation, rather than the remains themselves. In addition, the mummies in the exhibition are not included gratuitously; it would be very difficult to stage an exhibition concerning ancient Egyptians’ burial practices without them.
  • I agree with what Max said. Also, with ancient Egypt we're studying anthropology and archealogy. I don't think the Bodies exhibit is being studying necessarily buy doctors to understand how the human body works. I think it's more a money-making venture and a freak show. If I wanted to see something like this, I would wait for the more legit version coming to the State Museum.

    Also, who knows who those bodies really are. It's been proven with this olympic mess that China doesn't always tell the truth. PS has anyone seen the documentary on HBO, China's Stolen Children? Disturbing in so many ways. It's absolutely appalling and heartbreaking.
  • My thoughts on the Bodies Exhibition . . . the writer from Nuvo should actually visit the exhibition before she starts throwing around opinions. Her entire article focused on the opinions of others. Had she taken the time to visit Bodies, she would see that the exhibition honors and respects the human body in its entirety and is sharing that with everyone to see. It is educational, eye-opening and quite amazing.
  • Please don't attack Nuvo for protesting the Bodies exhibit. Real investigations have shown that the bodies used in the exhibit are of illegal (and immoral) origin. While very interesting, one should ask whether they want to participate in a huge money making endeavor by the exhibitor at the cost of human life. The investigative story on 20/20 in Feb. 2008 was very telling on the subject. The actual inventor of the process of making the bodies was brought to tears as he recounted what he has seen regarding the treatment of human beings for our entertainment. I happen to think the the exhibition is extremely interesting, but I'm not willing to go to the one currently on display because of the origin of the bodies. The company coming in the near future can verify that the bodies shown have been donated with consent. A huge difference.

    Check out the video of the Chinese factory where these are made: http://abcnews.go.com/search?searchtext=bodies%20exhibit%20china&from=0&to=9&type=video
  • West Coast Born and Raised:

    Does the Nuvo reporter have to visit the German Holocaust crematoriams to be able to write about the evil of the Nazis?

    The evidence (or lack of it on Premier Exhibitions part) to refute that these bodies are not Chinese prisoners, that they died of natural causes, that the deceased or their family members gave consent for PE to publicly exhibit their bodies for hundreds of millions in profits, and that the bodies were legally and not fraudulently shipped into the USA.

    To quote Rabbi Lewis Felstein: “I see a society that has turned death into entertainment. And what was once filled with love and hope and life and caring is just now the thing an audience can be entertained with.”

    WCBR, if after bought your ticket to BTE and just when you were about to enter the exhibit they told you the bodies were actually plastic mannequins and not real humans, would you have still gladly paid your $25 and would you have thought it so educational, eye-opening and quite amazing?

    IF that's the case, I'm sure Premier Exhibitions could have made plastic mannequins for a lot less. I'm assuming you work for a big corporation where profits (and particularly your share of those profits) is king.
  • I attended this exhibit in New York over a year ago. I was impressed at the atmosphere of reverence for the bodies from everyone, from children to teenagers to adults. There was no disrespect or entertainment about it. In my opinion, anyone seeing this come away with a feeling of awe at the complexity of the body and how it works. Everyone would benefit from seeing it.
  • I've always been disturbed by exhibitions of ancient mummified remains, because I feel as though someone's grave has been robbed. I won't be visiting the Claypool exhibit for similar reasons: the bodies can't be said to have been used with consent. My understanding is that the State Museum exhibit is unique in that the subjects gave their consent while they were still alive, which makes all the difference in the world. That's education I can embrace.
  • My opinion is this.... if people are willing to go out of their way to see these things, why deny them? If other people do not want to take part in it, then do not! It's as simple as that.
  • I saw the Bodies exhibit in Seattle with my boss, a Chinese woman. We went for educational purposes because we worked in the medical field. It was fascinating and very educational.

    At the time, the controversy was just coming to light, so we heard of the questionable origin only after we bought our tickets. Would I go now that I know more of their questionable origin? Probably not.
  • I saw the exhibit with my daughter, who is studying to be a science teacher. We both found the experience highly instructive, and it gave us a new sense of respect for the marvelous machines that are our bodies. And, after seeing the effects of smoking on the preserved lungs, I will never pick up a cigarette again. It sounds as though the cadavers were harvested from tragic circumstances, but perhaps some good outcome will prevail.

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