10 reasons to see Bodies: The Exhibition with PREVIEW PHOTOS

OK, I’ll admit viewing a room full of dead bodies may not initially sound to everyone like a fun-filled way to spend an afternoon.

Bodies: The Exhibition opens in Tucson May 15/courtesy photo

Bodies: The Exhibition opens in Tucson May 15/courtesy photo

But once you get past any apprehension, you will be amazed by the exhibit opening this weekend for an eight-week engagement in Tucson. I promise.

Bodies: The Exhibition opens Saturday, May 15 at the Rialto Theater, 300 E. Congress – and certainly makes for a great date, solo excursion or even a family outing. Field trip anyone?

10 reasons to go see Bodies: The Exhibition

No animals were harmed in the process. No people were harmed, either. All were dead before any finagling with them began. How many cosmetic companies can say that?

You’ll be honoring the dead. The bodies are those of people in China who died from natural causes and had no one claim them after death. Chinese law says unclaimed bodies go to medical schools for education and research. Your mere presence will be an honor to them.

You’ll see silicone rubber has uses other than cake pans and tires. Silicone rubber is the exhibit’s magic ingredient used to preserve the bodies. Bodies are first treated with chemicals to stop decay, then all the bodies’ water is replaced with acetone.

Next comes the vacuum chamber filled with liquid silicone. The vacuum chamber makes the acetone in the body turn to gas and the liquid silicone hurries to fill the voids. The silicone rubber then hardens and the body is indefinitely preserved. Don’t try this at home.

Bodies: The Exhibition opens in Tucson May 15/courtesy photo

Bodies: The Exhibition opens in Tucson May 15/courtesy photo

It’s fun for the whole family. “We feel strongly that the Exhibition can offer a rare family experience: A golden opportunity to open a child’s eyes – and, in a way no textbook ever could, to teach them about the complexities of the human body and the necessity of proper nutrition, regular activity and the importance of healthy lifestyle choices…,” the Bodies: The Exhibition website notes.

You’ll quit smoking. You’ll quit drinking. You’ll quit eating like a horse. One of the Exhibition’s goals is to point out a number of health ailments that ravage folks today. These range from obesity to cirrhosis of the liver, breast cancer to arthritis. You’ll also get a peek of what happens to your organs if smoke, drink or eat too much.

Your understanding of anatomy will expand beyond “the leg bone is connected to the hip bone.”

You will be filled with awe. Trust me on this one. I saw Our Body: The Universe Within, a related exhibit, when it came to Detroit. My parents took me, proving it works as a family outing.

It’s a playground for artists. Beyond the awesome scientific aspect of it all, such a viewing will make your creativity surge. Grab your sketchbook and go. In addition to any detailed illustrations, you could also get a poem, painting or sculpture out of it.

It will open your mind. The display gives rise to plenty of pondering on topics like immortality, the human being as a machine, creation, nature, life, death, kneecap connections and other big questions like “Does my pancreas really look like that?”

You’ll have plenty of conversation topics for months to come. No more awkward silences during first dates, family gatherings or on the phone with anyone. You can instead talk up a storm describing the fascinating exhibit you had the pleasure of viewing. Just don’t discuss too many details over dinner.

Tickets and more info online at www.bodiestheexhibition.com/tucson/

[tnislideshow] [tnipoll]


What do you think?

Is this exhibition fascinating or grotesque?

Will you be attending? Why or why not?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in art, life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to 10 reasons to see Bodies: The Exhibition with PREVIEW PHOTOS

  1. Carolyn Classen says:

    Awesome, but a bit ghoulish.  Let me know if you go.

    • Rynski says:

      agreed! writing about it – and reviewing photos – reminded me how incredible the exhibit is. i am newly inspired…even feel a poem… will keep you posted on my attendance. thanks!

      • Carolyn Classen says:

        I guess this will be the exhibit to say “I see dead people” (quote from that 1999 Sixth Sense movie).

  2. leftfield says:

    I can’t wait.  I think it would have been a good thing, were it possible, to know something about the people whose bodies are on display: name, family info, where they lived, etc.  In working with animal rescue organizations I have noticed that when the animals are given names rather than numbers, they receive more care and attention.  I think the same thing here would allow for a deeper connection with the displays as formerly having been living humans whose lives were at some level probably not all that different from the viewers lives.

    • Rynski says:

      yaay! another vote for FASCINATING.
      i agree that knowing about the people would further enhance the exhibit – but the website duly notes that all such info is strictly confidential and NEVER shared with the general public.
      that doesn’t stop curiosity at all.
      good for you! on work with animal rescues. and yes, naming animals definitely adds to their care. (although sawyer would still get same amt of love if he were referred to as Dog No. 9 – hahahhaha.)
      i also tend to name my artwork as the creations, too, deserve more than just an anonymous number.

    • azmouse says:

      I agree. That would make a difference to be able to have a bit of a personal connection

      • Rynski says:

        it would be great, too, if they could be in poses/backgrounds that reflected who they were – like the ball player was a big baseball fan, etc.

  3. Dan King says:

    There is much evidence indicating political prisoners are tortured/executed in prisons. Their bodies are not returned to their families, to further torture the families in that they never know their son/husband/wife who pushed for human rights is still alive or dead. It is unfortunate & disgusting some Americans chose to encourage & support this system of repression.

    • leftfield says:

      It is unfortunate & disgusting some Americans chose to encourage & support this system of repression.

      Are we ready to stop shopping at WalMart then?

    • Rynski says:

      hi dan,
      while what you are saying may be true, are you insinuating that the bodies came from torture victims? this hardly sounds like ‘natural causes’ that the website promises.

      • Apple Jack says:

        Oh, so the Web site says it’s OK. Move along, nothing to see here.
        Ryn, you might dig a little deeper and discover that there’s considerable controversy over the origin of the bodies, including concerns from state AGs. You might want to retract that glib “honoring the dead” thing.
        “Questions regarding the origins of the bodies continue to be raised.[9] In 2006, reporting from Dalian, China for the New York Times, David Barboza described “a ghastly new underground mini-industry” with “little government oversight, an abundance of cheap medical school labor and easy access to cadavers and organs.”[10] Premier representatives say “the bodies were not formally donated by people who agreed to be displayed.”[9] The director of the Anatomical Committee of the New York Associated Medical Schools (NYAMS) worries that “you have no documentation of who this is.”[5]
        ABCNews’ program 20/20 produced a major report exposing the ‘secret trade in Chinese bodies.’[11] Claiming that bodies are sold on the black market for $300, the report spawned not only a series of other articles[12][13][14] but also a Congressional inquiry,[15] an investigation by the NY Attorney General,[12] and the resignation of Premier’s CEO Arnie Geller.[16]
        In 2008, the front page of the exhibition website had a disclaimer describing the presumed origin of the bodies and fetuses:
        -This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons. Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons.
        -This exhibit displays full body cadavers as well as human body parts, organs, fetuses and embryos that come from cadavers of Chinese citizens or residents. With respect to the human parts, organs, fetuses and embryos you are viewing, Premier relies solely on the representations of its Chinese partners and cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.[17]

      • Rynski says:

        thanks for add’l info, apple jack.
        the “honoring the dead” is not meant to be glib – i mean it in all earnestness. since (according to the site) no one was there to honor or claim the bodies upon their death, this is a chance for those who attend to honor them.
        actually, honoring the dead applies regardless of where the bodies came from.  monks actually blessed some in earlier exhibits. we can all bless/honor/pay our tributes in our own way.

      • Applejack says:

        Ryn, would you really consider it an honor to have your body preserved if you had been executed as a political prisoner? Particularly when someone else is profiting from it?
        It’s one thing to do an exhibition of this nature when you have consent of the people on display, given before they die. This is entirely different.
        Aren’t you supposed to be a professional journalist who looks this stuff off before writing about it?

  4. Rynski says:

    ps just realized i mislabeled slide show photo ‘close up of conductor.’ it’s really ‘close up of dart player.’ i dare not try to fix slide show as slide shows tend to get temperamental and disappear or mysteriously reformat everything i’ve ever written. thanks.

  5. Dav - id says:

    I can’t wait. This will be the third different showing I’ve attended. I love it, My kids love it, and I think it’s a great study of human anatomy and the human condition. I highly advise going to experience these transcendental works.

    • Rynski says:

      hiya dav-id,
      glad to hear another FASCINATING vote! also glad to hear your kids enjoy it, too. i know as a kid i’d be thrilled to attend – heck, i’m thrilled as an adult (haha).
      also agree with your terming it ‘transcendental’ – you got it!
      thanks for comment.

  6. Jennatoolz says:

    I voted FASCINATING as well! I’d like to go check this out…it seems really neat!

    • Jennatoolz says:

      PS…I dont know why, but my usual computer at work just refuses to let me comment on things. (I’m on a diff computer at the moment) It really bums me out!

    • Rynski says:

      yaaay! awesome to hear from you, jenna, and double awesome on the FASCINATING vote.
      it IS really neat!
      p.s. it bums me out you cannot comment, too – miss your cheery input. tell them you need a new computer – pronto! hahahah.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Pfft, I’ve tried that already, to no avail! Here I am stuck with a dinosaur for a computer…lol.

  7. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Rynski: Ever attend a autopsy? You’d love the sights and sounds.
    My first was when I was attending the Police academy back in the day.
    It was a nice summer Saturday morning at the county coronors’ office when they wheeled out this middle aged woman from the cold-storage room and laid her out, nice and neat, on the stainless-steel table.
    There were about 18 or so of us cadets gathered around the table, and when the examiner took the saw and cut through her breast bone, opening her torso up from the top of her rib cage to her pelvic bone, a couple of the girls fainted.
    The cadaver’s organs were taken out, examined, weighed, and stored in plastic bags for future reference.
    Then the examiner took a little hand-held saw and cut the top of the woman’s skull off, so he could remove her brain. To this day, every time that I visit the dentist to have a tooth filled, the drill sounds exactly like the skull saw and the burning skull bone smells exactly like a tooth being drilled. FLASHBACK – Orange County Morgue, circa: 1976. <g>
    The only way that I got through it was that I visualized that I was hunting, and I was field-dressing a wild boar that I had shot. But after a few . . . no big deal. I used to help hunt for bullets.
    Book ’em Dano, yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • Rynski says:

      hey ferraribubba –
      no, never attended an autopsy although i’ve tried. requests always turned down.
      i’m sure i’d be fascinated – as long as i didn’t forever associate brain drilling with dentist – i have a hard enough time sitting in the dentist chair – hahah.
      thanks for input.

  8. Rabba says:

    I don’t like the idea that they are profiting with the bodies of people that died and no one claimed them. They did not give permission the exibit their bodies. I think that’s very sad!

  9. Rynski says:

    Hi folks,
    Since some were concerned about rumors of prisoners of war being part of the exhibit, I sent your concerns to Premier, the company behind the exhibit, and received the following response:

    Dear Ryn-

    These rumors are very concerning and we hope we can set the record straight. Premier would only invest on this scale in an exhibition property, which is designed to be educationally driven, and tour it across the globe having exercised due diligence that the content has been acquired from an appropriate source: we have a written indemnities and have visited China on several occasions to ensure the sourcing process is both legal and moral, prior to curating the exhibition.

    To clarify, all of the specimens in BODIES…The Exhibition were obtained through a plastination facility in Dalian, China. The plastination facility obtained the specimens from medical universities in China including Dalian Medical University.

    Many of the bodies in the exhibition are unclaimed and unidentified and obtained pursuant to Chinese law, by the various medical universities.

    Our suppliers have certified to us that they died from natural causes. However, in a number of cases throughout the Exhibition, our medical director has been able to identify the obvious medical problems that the specimen suffered from, and, where appropriate, it is so indicated. For example, a lung is displayed and the disease is identified as emphysema, so those who see it can gain a clearer understanding of this disease.

    -end response-
    Some may not be satisfied with that response, but I wanted to share it anyway. Thanks.

    • Carolyn Classen says:

      Hmm, have you gone into Bodies yet Ryn?  There was a long line waiting to get in yesterday at 1:30 p.m. while others (like me and my husband) were at the Volunteer Fair at the Rialto Theater/Hotel Congress.

      • Rynski says:

        hey carolyn,
        still undecided about attending, but it’s a definite maybe-yes.
        IF i go i am definitely going to wait for the initial explosion of interest to abate – long lines are NOT my idea of fun.
        i’ll pick some random weekday at a random hour – hopefully when it’s not full of 220 school kid field trips – haha.

  10. Travis says:

    I’m surprised by the lack of outrage at this exhibit since Premier has shown no proof that the bodies aren’t Chinese prisoners.  Other exhibitors such as “BodyWorlds” can prove their bodies were donated, however Premier has yet to.
    I’m also worried by the seemingly public acceptance of this sort of “entertainment” or “education”.  What if there was an exhibit where Premier cut open euthanized dogs and cats from the Humane Society and displayed them?  That exhibit wouldn’t last 2 hours.

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