Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can You Spot the Difference ?

Awhile back, the Bodies folks came through Cincinnati with their troupe of plasticized corpses for a show at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The exhibit displays preserved corpses without skin & in various poses and degrees of dissection in an effort to entertainingly educate people as to the workings of their bodies.
There was an uproar over the exhibit. People claimed the cadavers on display had not consented to having their bodies displayed and might have been prisoners who might have been brutalized or murdered/executed.
Today we have an exhibit, Without Sanctuary, at the NURFC displaying photographs of people who were detained, tortured, mutilated and murdered. I am assuming none of these people consented to having the images of their desecrated bodies put on display.
So what's the difference? Where is the outrage?
Is the lynching exhibit ok because it is just photographs? Is it the age of the photography? Would 70 year old porn be ok?
With the Bodies show, the history of the people was questionable. In the Lynching show, there might be some question, but for the most part the focus is people who definitely suffered what Bodies folks might have suffered. With the Bodies show, the people were faceless literally. In the Lynching show, people are, mostly recognizable if not identified.
I could postulate on why people are viewing the exhibits differently, but I won't bother here. I think it is a double standard, tho. Ultimately the chore of respecting the dead lies in the individual. If you are confronted with a skinned plasticized corpse or an image of mutilated, tortured lynching victim - that person led a life & now they are being used for entertainment/human interest purposes by people who think they are operating in society's best interest, so remember the golden rule.

2 comments:

pbernish said...

The controversy with the Bodies exhibit was the origin of the cadavers; many people believe the corpses were of Chinese individuals who had been either prisoners or trafficking victims, and whose bodies were used without permission.

The lynching photos in the Without Sanctuary exhibition are historical images of actual events.

Quim said...

Some of the images were used for postcards, that is, for entertainment purposes. To say they are historical documents would justify what I suggested, that old porn, even involving unconsenting minors, is ok for public display in public settings.
While your body has a huge influence on who you are, after you die, your body is just a representation of who you were - much like a photograph.