On Saturday, the area’s curious get their chance to stare wide-mouthed at the plasticized corpses of China’s most athletic citizens. Bodies: The Exhibition, a knockoff of the original Body Worlds (now with horses!) that has been touring the world in the last few years, opens after weeks of ads in the city’s freest tabloid newspapers. Gaze in amazement as sculpted deli meat is posed digging for a frustratingly out-of-reach volleyball! Good serve! Or swear off smoking for a few hours as you witness the terrifying effect of tobacco on the human lung! Holy China National Tobacco Company! Why is it so brown!?!
Of course, there will be controversy when this show opens. The other cities who have hosted this and other rival exhibits have all faced the ethically loaded questions that these giant Visible Men raise. It’s no chocolate Jesus, but now DC gets to stare into the milky glass eyes of possible Chinese political prisoners who had no say in whether their bodies were donated to science. Again, possible. According to the event’s website “the law” prevents anyone from knowing who these people were. It says, “All the bodies were obtained through the Dalian Medical University Plastination Laboratories in the People’s Republic of China” and then mentions how Asia houses the world’s “most highly competent dissectors.” Oh, Bangkok, you and your shows.
The other visual issue that some may have difficulty with, besides the frequent examples flayed male junk, is the portion of the show dealing with the stages of fetal development. The specimens are sterilely presented in a way that I would imagine an elementary school child would lay out a science project about nuts – peanut on one end, Brazilian on the other. It’s easy to want to imagine them as plastic Mardi Gras King Cake babies and not fetal tissue that has been subjected to some fancy chemical process where all the tissue is replaced by some fancy polymer.
But none of this concerns us Pyggies because we’re not going. While on a field trip to Chicago in ’05 we saw the Body Worlds version and, personally, I have little desire to see it again. And not for to any moral or ethical reasons, I just didn’t find the exhibit very interesting. Frankly, as some fellow rockers mentioned to me last night, most young men in this country got better anatomy lessons by reading Erik Larsen drawn Spiderman comics. Also, Flex magazine as an adult.
Besides, the bodies aren’t even the best part. And it’s not the stand alone circulatory or GI or reproductive or nervous systems, either. The highlight of the whole exhibit is wedding-like guest book messages that the public is asked to sign at the end. The examples on the website are, obviously, very positive. But back in ’05 I copied down the reactions on single page of the 4 books available for signature. I figured they’d become in bloggy someday. Enjoy.
- Too much baby dong. - Chris, age 11
- All we are is ham meat. - Matt, age 14
- Change the music in the plastic baby fetus room. That's the last time I play violin. - A violinist
- It brought back painful memories of my dead hamster's bloated carcass lying in his cage. Goodbye!
- PS I now have to go claw my eyes out.
- My worst time in a museum ever.
- Very wonderful. Especially the one that looked like Calista Flockhart.
- Mind Bobbling!
- Breathtaking - the New York Times
- Single Male looking for Female. 35 years old, very fit. Please call ask for Kieth (708) 308-****. PS. Must love science and animals.