In critiquing a display of unclaimed and found Chinese dead bodies at the South Street Seaport, (Bones of Contention, January 6, 06) Andrew Hultkrans unwittingly perpetuates a fiction about Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the anatomist who invented Plastination (the method that makes anatomical exhibits possible), and the creator of the original BODY WORLDS anatomical exhibits. The allegation originally made by German newspaper Der Spiegel that Dr. von Hagens was supplied the bodies of executed Chinese prisoners was determined to be a fabrication, and the German courts, in weighing the merits of an interim injunction brought by BODY WORLDS against the newspaper, ruled in favor of Dr. von Hagens. In accordance with Germany's laws, Der Spiegel is now restricted from claiming, among other things, either literally or by implication, that “Gunther von Hagens is exhibiting the corpses of executed Chinese prisoners in the BODY WORLDS exhibition.” According to the court, if the interim injunction is violated, Der Spiegel, must pay Dr. von Hagens a fine of 250,000 Euros. Nevertheless, the allegation has been circulating on the internet for years, and the New York Times astonishingly gave it a new lease of life. While it is understandable that Mr. Hulkrant quoted a New York Times report without verifying it, I suggest that a paper, which had trouble reporting Iraq WMD, should not be held up so easily as an arbiter of truth.
In fact, there are no Chinese bodies executed, unclaimed, found, or even donated on display in BODY WORLDS. Excluding a small number of specimens acquired from anatomical collections and anatomy programs, the plastinated specimens on display in Dr. von Hagens exhibitions stem from a unique body donation program established in Heidelberg, Germany in 1978, later managed by the Institute for Plastination established in 1993. While other exhibits have revealed that they use unclaimed bodies or bodies that had been abandoned when found, BODY WORLDS has never needed to seek bodies for its exhibits. Currently, IfP has a donor roster of 6.593 individuals which includes 140 Americans. The already deceased on the ifp's donor roster number 350. All IfP documents relating to donated bodies have been scrutinized and approved by two ethics committees formed by the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where BODY WORLDS exhibitions took place in 2005. Once imprisoned for two and half years in East Germany for political reasons, Dr. von Hagens is acutely sensitive to the vulnerability of prisoners everywhere. “I have never plastinated the bodies of executed persons, for, based on my ethical convictions, I disapprove of using such bodies for anatomical purposes,” Dr. von Hagens has said.
BODY WORLDS is the only anatomical exhibit that uses donated bodies willed by donors during their lifetime for the express purpose of serving BODY WORLDS missionto educate the public about health and anatomy. Instead of rehashing fanciful stories about Dr. von Hagens, reporters would do better to follow the trail of unclaimed and found Chinese dead bodies used without their willed consent by some exhibitors. There they would unearth stories such as that of a young Chinese woman, Mrs. Xia, who donated her father's body to a municipal body donation program in Nanjing, China for scientific study, only to learn when she turned on the TV and recognized her father's corpse on a news segment that it had been appropriated for public display. “These days all my family are bearing a terrible hurt. We are afraid to turn on the TV because every specimen flashing on the screen looks like my kind and selfless father,” she told the Nanjing Daily News in China. Reporters would also be well advised to investigate statements such as this one by an exhibitor of unclaimed and found bodies : “All this hullabaloo over China! These were ordinary people, anonymous people, probably very poor people. They probably never made big contributions to their community when they were alive. But after their deaths, they are educating millions.” Finally, Mr. Hulkrant makes connections between Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds and Premier Exhibitions that do not exist. Dr. von Hagens is a licensed physician and anatomist sharing the discoveries of his thirty year career in pathology and anatomical science with the public; Premier is a publicly traded company that stages exhibitions.
Gail Vida Hamburg,
Media & Public Liaison
for Dr. Gunther von Hagens
and Body Worlds
Day to Day, March 30, 2005 · Body Worlds, a popular exhibit of preserved human corpses, was recently robbed of a 13-week-old preserved fetus while on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. NPR's Luke Burbank reports on the theft.
Ok, I'll try to be more objective and stick to facts:
"Although von Hagens insists that all the bodies displayed in his exhibition come from donors, the same cannot be said of the bodies held at his Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg. In 1999, a German magazine claimed to have traced the bodies and found them to be those of 56 Siberian peasants and mental patients from Novosibirsk. Von Hagens does indeed have a contract with the Anatomical Institute of the University of Novosibirsk, which is licensed to collect unclaimed bodies.
One particular case horrified many visitors: one of the bodies had Cyrillic characters tattooed on its arm, suggesting that the owner may have been a former prison camp inmate. Von Hagens denies this, saying that the tatooed body belongs to a German citizen and a personal friend. Nevertheless, the connotations were appalling for many Germans, some of whom demonstrated against the artist. When his exhibition opened in Cologne, it was greeted by protestors bearing the banner 'Mengele 2000'. "
I'm not so interested in the DR. as the people who come to look at the flayed bodies. When I was in art school we had a Japanese book in our figure drawing class that showed the human body all cut up into pieces. It purported to be an “anatomy” book. But it was pretty obviously a sadistic thrill kill book. As is this exhibit.
The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of the Living
“On or about December 1910, the human character changed”
I saw a traffic accident aftermath from a school buss once. It was great. There werent any grief counselors back then. Just retards.
Jesus, please tell me about Kurt Vonnegut.
breakfast of champions was rumored to be written in a town i lived in. we used to sneak off to smoke by the river that glowed. i was an archivist in the house of the guy who is the reason the river glowed. i learned the Secret Societys are real there.
so and i ran into these kids 2nite and they called TB conservative? like us? us?
It is conservative. Play nice or it's extreme rendition for you. I asked naughty questions about Mr. V that were hustled off to the void in a matter of minutes after their first posting. That's when I knew I had to ask Jesus instead.
Are these my last words? Hail Sushi!
Not really, my way of saying vikingdin and zoloft crushed together and inhaled through the new airborne insulin dispenser work. so hunter thompson, speaking of Kurt Vonnegut, though i liike kurdtko better. Vito Acconci were @ the writers workshop 2gether, that's right Vito has his degree in writing, not art. Ran into him in a museum once, very curly hair, Donald Sutherland could do his 'story'. KV seemed very jealous of Pynchon still. Hunter thompson was always a much better focus; his talks @ Johns Hopkins university were legendary, imagine he and Derrida were on the same campus. S Y the university is killing art. S Y i keep my distance, parasite 4 awhile then get off, Kinda like a Tick on arf-arf.
On the other hand, the lead article here reminds me of teaching @ the university level, wondering if all these corpses were healthy 4 the economy. U have 2 sell out to teach since u can't do shit that offends people, like telling the little rich shit u don't care. I know i got class frustration up the yin yang.
i wish though that John the baptizer wouldn't have used the ‘voice of the one crying in the desert.’ I wanted that; he's burning in hell for that.
Remember, the best body armor is the body armor on your body. A lightweight vest that you will actually wear may be much better for you than a vest with Kevlar plates sitting in your locker.
Have you tried your vest on lately du? Gotta watch that gut.
u of the famous Dockers w/ the expandable waistline that moves in and out like the ocean tide?
wrong nom de plume brah, but I do wear slack alot. I'm edgy brah. Quirky and edgy.