This morning Ruben and I visited three expositions all in the La Rambla area of Barcelona.
BODIES...The Exhibition showcases preserved human bodies dissected to display bodily systems. BODIES... is currently showing in Barcelona and other cities in the US, Europe and South America. So this is not a travelling exhibit in the usual sense as there multiple exhibits on tour at the same time.
The exhibit starts at the skeletal system, and more layers (muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems) are added in successive rooms. Fetal development and diseased organs are also displayed. Each exhibition uses about twenty real human bodies that have been preserved permanently by a process called "polymer preservation". I did see some exhibits loosing fragments as they are very fragile.
The cadavers were provided by the Chinese government. Allegedly all the bodies at the time of death had no close next of kin or immediate families to claim the bodies. All of the dissections took place at the Dalian University in Liaoning, China and the resulting specimens were leased to Premier Exhibitions for the five-year duration of the show.
The bodies are prevented from decay by a means of a rubberization process patented in the 1970s by anatomist Gunther von Hagens. Water and fatty material in the cells of the body are replaced first by acetone and then by plastics, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resin.
I found the exhibition a little creepy, especially when diseased body parts are displayed. The other issue is that it’s not clear what, if any, consent of the people being displayed was obtained, either from the person or their family. To me, it smacks of profiteering by a US-based company along with the complicity of the Chinese authorities. We are talking about well over $500M USD.
The regular entrance price at 19 € is stiff by Spanish standards. In the US they charge about $25 USD, which is cheaper when you consider the exchange rate. When you include the difference in median income, they should be charging closer to 8 €. Ruben did not have either his student ID card nor his Tr3s culture discount card with him. However, the ticket seller took pity on me and I received a “senior” discount of 2 €.
More about the other two exhibitions in my next post.