Bodies: Earls Court

Moral Dilemma:

Bodies exhibition at Earls Court. I’m sure you’ve probably seen it advertised. It’s an exhibition of real dead people preserved using new technology and enabling us to experience firsthand that which most of us would never go near. A sort of gross anatomy class for the lay-voyeur.

I want to go because I have developed an unhealthy interest in our perceptions of the body, it’s margins and borders, the way it is affected and made a public spectacle by technology, and the beauty of natural tissue. It would also be useful for one of my modules this year (an essay question asks whether art performs a cathartic function which religion used to fulfil when we are faced with harsh reality such as death).

On the negative side there have been articles such as this which state that the bodies used may be those of executed political prisoners from China and who therefore did not give their consent to the use of their remains.

This claim is strengthened by the fact that the same man denied the same claims previously only to return some of the bodies when a couple were found to have bullet holes in their heads.

I guess the issue of consent is the all important thing to me, not the sanctity of the body or any issues regarding the trivialisation of life and death. Not that they aren’t important issues – but they are ones that I can resolve on my own I think. However, if there was no consent I don’t feel happy that I would be funding someone who, if it were true, would be rather lacking in the scruples department and working against what folks at Amnesty International are trying to achieve.

I think, if this doesn’t get resolved I shall be staying away despite the perfect timing and so on. At least that way I’ll be able to square my actions with my conscience.