Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not for the Queasy: The Dead are Art -- Gunther von Hagens

I am fascinated by Gunter von Hagens. He makes art from dead bodies. People donate their bodies before passing, and it’s all legal and as controversial as you might think. Photographs of the work are at the bottom of this blog (i.e. you are warned).

The Guardian has an interesting discussion of his work. I thought it was respectful, engaging, and though-provoking. An excerpt:

“…why shouldn't Von Hagens merchandise his corpses? If Damien Hirst can stud a dead man's cranium with diamonds, why shouldn't Von Hagens give us whole cadavers kicking footballs or dancing the tango? Apparently, all Von Hagens' deceased performers gave their permission for his use of their bodies, even the young woman who died with an eight-month foetus in utero.

From the beginning of western civilisation, people have gone to great lengths to recover their dead and give them a decent burial. Soldiers take risks to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades under fire; people bereaved by natural disaster spend weeks and months hunting for their dead. When the body of Antigone's brother Polynices was left on a Greek battlefield, she defied the royal edict to bring it back for honourable burial and was punished with death.”

All work (and images) belong to Gunther von Hagens and are from his website. His life is also fascinating; I suggest you read his bio.

"The Basketball Player"
"The Poker Playing Trio"

No comments: