(wwl) fragmented immortality

September 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve always loved going to the musuem of natural history, even after my mother told me why the animals over there looked so real. I’ve never been disgusted and to be honest, I’ve found it quite interesting that it’s possible to preserve ex-living beings without them rotting (from the outside). That they could be used to make children happy was even better.

Haven’t thought much about it then, until the exhibition “Our Body” came to Paris and settled next to the Opera. The exhibition with real human bodies – that is, corpses. Corpses that had been plastified, cut open, staged, in order to show how it worked inside, how many muscles we have in the back (and we have a great deal more than we think!) Until the final court of appeal in Paris decided that “the exhibition of dead bodies to commercial ends was idencent”, which finally lead to the closure of the exhibition (but a lot of people still had had time to visit it and pay 12€ to get there, so I guess the organisers didn’t go away with empty pockets). The initial controversy came from the fact that the origin of the bodies was unknown. Rumours talked about Chinese prisoners sentenced to death, as there were claims that bullets had been found in one of them. Anyway. Human taxidermy. Actually, it wasn’t as disgusted as it seemes to be. It merely looked like all those books on human anatomy you’re given as a child, but in 3D. I could almost have been art, hadn’t it been real bodies (but was it scientific, on the other hand?…)

Let’s talk about what is recognized as art, now. German artist Iris Schieferstein works with dead animals. She doesn’t only stuff them, she models them, uses their fragments and reasembles them. They become strange surrealist sculptures, quite scary, I must admit. We’d believe we’re in a curiosity cabinet of a traveller coming directly from Narnia. Full of chimeras, full of monsters. I love this kind of things because it make one think in terms of normality/monstrosity. I found it funny when in her interview (DazedDigital) she says she almost went to jail because she was using dead animals, which is forbidden in Germany (from a sanitary point of view, I kind of understand… in France you can’t bury your dog in your own garden though everybody does it) whereas since 1969, zoophilia isn’t condemned anymore in the Teutonic country.

On the same topic, see the (rather gruesome) movie Taxidermia that tells three stories, of three men from different generations in the same family. the first one is obsessed with sex, the second with food and the last by immortality — which he seeks through the art of taxidermy. Not to watch while you’re eating, and make sure that someone’s there afterwards to comfort you.

(Note: I took this post from the previous T&D blog version, because it becomes perfectly the theme of this new one.)


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