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The journey to the Expo was as hideous as Prof. Gunther von Hagen's Body Worlds Exhibition. I'm speaking “hideous” in a marvelous way. Since the first exhibition in Tokyo in 1995 more than 13 million people have viewed the interior of the human body. The BODY WORLDS is hence the most successful touring exhibition world-wide. In 1977, Gunther von Hagen invented the plastination technique which marked the beginning of a second anatomical revolution. Andreas Vesalius who created precise anatomical drawings as early as in 1543 was the pioneer of modern anatomy. It is only due to the invention of plastination that the general public is now also able to enjoy fascinating insights into the human body.

After spending more then an hour in the exhibition hall, most of the “plastic” body parts looks similar, nevertheless a couple of exhibits really stood out:

Ring Man: Suspended in mid air holding onto gymnastics rings, arms out stretched like Jesus Christ on the cross. From a distance, this piece caught my eye. In the theme of “Ring”, horizontal rings of meat with different textures of muscle or skin is left behind.

Slices: A standing man was sliced vertically, inches apart, exposing the body elements. It’s crazy to see a cross dissected body in this way, almost science fiction like.

Pregnant Mother: A woman about 5-6 months in pregnancy now preserved forever. The stomach cut apart exposing the unborn fetus with tiny hands and fingers.

The big question: Is Gunther von Hagen an anatomist or an Artist. I feel his love for anatomy gelled with his enthusiasm to share and educate his works got him thinking how his creative side can be of greater service. In some ways, he is also a fantastic businessman.

Is the greater fascination looking upon exhibits that was once someone’s parent, spouse or child? Would this exhibition be as successful if we were all just looking at very realistic plastic models? Would the keen interest in anatomy be so strong? Is there any morality issues exhibiting bodies in this way?

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