Skip to comments.Origin of Exhibit's Bodies Contested
Posted on 09/15/2007 8:12:47 PM PDT by JACKRUSSELL
Controversy has followed an exhibit of preserved, plasticized human bodies around the world.
Now, a group of Ohio State University students and faculty members is raising questions about "Bodies The Exhibition" during its six-month stay in Columbus.
Like others, the OSU group is challenging whether the bodies are those of people who died of natural causes, as the exhibit's owners insist, or whether they are those of political prisoners who died in Chinese prisons.
Premier Exhibitions, the Atlanta company that brought an exhibit of Titanic artifacts to COSI Columbus in 2005, says it's under suspicion because the bodies came from China.
"When anyone does work in China, they are painted with a brush that says they must be doing something immoral, illegal or unethical," said Dr. Roy Glover, a retired University of Michigan anatomy and cell-biology professor who is Premier's chief medical adviser.
Arjene Chen, an Ohio State graduate student, says there are reasons for suspicion.
China has acknowledged that it harvests organs for transplant from executed prisoners, a practice banned in U.S. prisons. And, according to the U.S. State Department, China has imprisoned up to 100,000 people since a 1999 crackdown on a movement called Falun Gong. Practitioners combine spirituality with meditation and exercise. A 2006 State Department report estimates that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have died in Chinese government custody.
"It's such a horrible thing," said Chen, president of the university's Falun Gong Practice Group.
She's from Taiwan. Even at OSU, she said, students from China often are afraid to speak out against their government.
The Falun Gong group says it will picket today near Easton Town Center, where the "Bodies" exhibit has been set up in a former CompUSA store since June 30. It's scheduled to run through Dec. 31.
The exhibit, with an admission cost of $15 to $28, depending on age, displays 21 bodies and more than 260 organs.
"They couldn't give us exactly the answers of where the bodies come from," Chen said of Premier. "They just said they come from China."
Lucia Dunn, an OSU economics professor and the Falun Gong group's faculty adviser, acknowledged that no one has been able to prove that the bodies belonged to prisoners.
"But we know so many people are being held as prisoners of conscience," she said.
Premier Exhibitions has faced similar controversy elsewhere.
An employee at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh resigned in June when the museum decided to host the "Bodies" exhibit. A science museum in Fort Lauderdale vetoed it last year.
Glover said Falun Gong supporters protested a show in London.
The bodies on display were obtained from Dalian Medical University in northeastern China, he said. The school runs a plastination laboratory that specializes in the technique used to preserve the bodies by replacing natural fluids with silicone.
Letters of indemnification, Chinese government documents and Premier's contract with the university all guarantee that the people died of natural causes, he said.
They weren't executed and weren't prisoners, Glover said. The bodies were unidentified or unclaimed, he said.
"You have to take somebody's word for it," Glover said when asked how he can be sure. He said the head of the lab at Dalian is a longtime, trusted friend.
COSI Columbus is negotiating to bring in a different anatomical exhibit that uses the same process to preserve human bodies.
Body Worlds, run by the German doctor who created the preservation technique, is preferred in part because "it does contain better documentation with the bodies," said Kelli Gaza Nowinsky, the science museum's spokeswoman.
The private research institute that coordinates Body Worlds seeks donated bodies on its Web site.
Previous thread on same subject:
I’ve never doubted that this freak and his traveling freak show would eventually be recognized for what they truly are.
Well I’m glad this was posted again. The exhibit was here in St. Paul, Minnesota last year, and I am SO glad I didn’t go. Thought it was disgusting from the minute I read about it.
Oh My God!
It's disgusting. The owners of this show are PsOS. Complete garbage.
Agree P.B. Unbelievable.
They’ve been here in Durham for the past several months, heavily advertising the exhibit on radio and on a couple of city buses. Oh yeah...and the exhibit was at the fanciest shopping mall in town, Streets at Southpoint. I’m glad I didn’t check it out.
Placing the dead bodies of people on display for profit? What a total callous disregard for the dignity of a human.
This is disgusting beyond words.
I saw this from a newspaper article of when the exhibit was in Minnesota:
While education is the exhibit’s focus, it also aims to get people in touch with their own bodies, Wojda said. Visitors wiggled their own kneecaps while examining a plastinated leg. Teachers pointed out the locations of muscles to elementary students.
What kind of ghoul takes elementary aged children to see this kind of stuff? They are probably still having nightmares.
They had an exhibit like this, possibly still do, in San Diego. I refuse to see it.
What a horror show!
I’d be surprised if they were not political prisoners.
IF there was no coercion, it was a great exhibit on what humans are. I saw it in Virginia. Very good work on showing how we work.
Words can’t express my horror.
Thanks for the ping Calpernia.
*IF* there was no coercion??????
This is China we’re talking about.
They probably weren’t coerced at all. They likely had no choice at all about when they were executed.
Pity the children who have parents that allowed them to partake in this type of ‘exhibit’.
I saw the exhibit in Philadelphia. What a physiology lesson.
I don’t object to it in principle, but it’s all too obvious where and how the chicoms got the bodies.
Young, buff, healthy twenty-somethings untouched by disease, addiction, or violent death... From a country long notorious for executing people to order for the organ trade.
Several of them were obviously diseased. Hardly any of them were “twenty-somethings” You can see similar, although not as well-preserved, people at any medical school.
There are very exact laws against this kind of exhibitionism. They may call it “art”, but the fact is that freak shows are illegal.
Whatever the constitutional issues, I hope they are at least challenged and prosecuted.
The Chinese are so touchy about their dead that they don’t even sign up for voluntary postmortem organ donation. The fact that all these bodies come from China is the first pointer. Second, maybe they did die of natural causes but where are the family consent letters that let this group use the dead bodies?
I am certain there’s something fishy about this.
I saw it D.C. It was a great exhibtion.
IRT the objestions, it’s like a “Have you stopped beating your wife” arguement