I went with Marie, an artist friend from my studio teaching days, to the "Body World" exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Years ago, the MOSI had a show called "Bodies" that was a similar genre (plasticine bodies put into creative positionings). However, the original show was created from the unclaimed dead of China. A sensitive I knew said that he couldn't go in because the exhibit was haunted and the entities were very very angry. They did not approve of their bodies displayed as such. (Culturally speaking, there is an idea of cremation of the body in Buddhism to allow the deceased to release from the material world in order to take a new incarnation).
I decided to see "Body World" as this one was created from volunteers' bodies. With my knowledge of the past exhibit, I decided to take in my EMF meter to see what I might get. The exhibit said that we could not RECORD any visual images inside, but this was an EMF meter; no camera. My friend, bless her heart, allowed me to walk up to and speak to each statue in a soft voice to see what kind of response I would get. We went to the night exhibit at 6 p.m., as this allowed for the earliest opening of ghosting hours and it was a little cheaper. The exhbit had about 10 to 15 human bodies, rooms full of preserved organs and bilateral slices, a couple of camels, a rooster and lamb.
The procedure was to go from one human body to the next and ask "Is there anyone here? Please spike the meter for 'yes'". At certain places the meter would peg with EM field, or drop to a "0" reading. In most places near the human statues the EMF would average about a .4 on the 0 - 3 scale.
Each human statue "said" nothing -- except for one. "Star Warrior" -- a rather creepy image of a man whose exposed muscles were wrapped with "clothing" modeled from rings of his own skin. The face was different from the others as this one had two eyes -- one in the socket and exposed, the other still in the eyelid and "winking" at the viewer. This one actually responded:
"Are you here? Can you make the meter spike?" Spike.
"Can you confirm that you are here?" Spike.
"Are you happy here?" Spike.
"You are happy?" Spike.
Marie mentioned that she felt as if the statue was looking at me -- and I had the strange impression (and I don't normally get these) that the entity was happy that people were "finally paying attention to my body." If the impression is legitimate, then this guy is a bit of an egotist!
I was not able to ask a lot of questions during my two hours at the show primarily because there were other people there looking at the exhibit. The hushed nature of the gallery was not conducive for me to stand around with EMF meter displayed asking questions of decorative dead bodies. There were also children present and I really did not want to scare anyone that night. Nonetheless, I felt that what I had experienced was enough even though only one "statue" responded.
I am curious to hear from others if they had any experiences with the exhibits displaying the plasticine corpses. To see a general idea of the exhibit: Body World
My artistic review:
I am not sure, overall, how I feel about the exhibit. They did have the fetus exhibit, and we saw the heart exhibit as well. Those didn't bother me as much as the images of the full bodies. What is hard to see in promo images is that the artist leaves the gender on the bodies (and without skin to hold things in place, it is NOT very flattering) . For women, the breasts were often left in place with skin, on top of which what appeared to be almost molded nipples. The facial features, usually flesh over the mouth, held lips that, as each set looked the same from one figure to the next, appeared to also be molded.
I'm not exactly a prude, but these things just had very little to do with the rest of the work. Some of the figures, for example, would be dramatically cut apart. A man on skis was literally cut in half -- each half on one ski. An body was divided into four parts that, together, made up a single shape repeated in each of the four parts. Some held their own organs in their hands, on sticks, or presented them to the audience, while the viewer could also see the empty cavity in the torse that once contained these pieces. Often, the figures had flayed muscles, veins, and bones placed about to produce dramatic effects. One woman, for example, in the pose of an archer had her facial muscles cut in such a way as to allude to hair that was tied up over her face; the "bun" to her hairstyle was her brain, which was seated on top of the back of the skull.
To me, the obvious drama and molding of the bodies was the emphasis. The human body, in all that it is, is a fascinating system and can be a beautiful thing. Sexuality is part of humanity, but here, leaving the organs did little to augment the works. In fact, it made the exhibit, to me, a bit awkward. Truthfully, I saw the items and it took me a minute to figure out what, exactly, these were supposed to be. For the men, I saw deflated sand-filled balloons at first, though the color was flesh toned. I will say that, without skin to hold items in place, the perception most certainly look different.
I remember seeing television shows that discussed the body exhibits perhaps as early as 10 years ago. These shows had figures that floated suspended from the ceiling, riding a similarly flayed horse, and so on. These were the more dramatic and dynamic works; they were not in this show. In other art shows, I had seen preserved fetal remains and the bilateral slices displayed before in a much more artistic manner. I also do wish that I had known about the "nudity" aspect as well. Again, I don't mind nude art but it would have saved me some time of staring, and the realization of what this actually was, had I known. People who have seen the exhibit rarely seem to share this with others. Already exhibiting such graphic images, I would have applied a warning to the show.
I know that this was a theme show, but perhaps having artists who alternate genres (not just showing the preserved remains everywhere) would have made this more interesting. After a while, the event just got boring, which it really should not have. There are only so many dancing human bodies that this one can appreciate in one night, I suppose. Personally, I could see a nude show (I have art that has gone into such as my little metal people are "nude" much of the time) with maybe 3 - 5 of these works in it, interspersed with other artists' interpretations of the human body.
From Verna Peddi:
Once I heard about the awesome exhibit, "Body Worlds" coming to MOSI in Tampa I was elated about visiting the grand display of human composition. I have always wanted to witness an exhibit as such. I was able to view an excellent documentary featuring Gunther von Hagen and his amazing plasticization of the human body about ten years ago. This program allowed the viewer to take an in depth look into the human body, but without the gruesome effect of an autopsy. I have to admit that I am a bit squeamish. I am also a sensitive and work with the paranormal research group, the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg. Nonetheless, I knew I could make a go of it, so my husband and I purchased our tickets and excitedly entered this land of body “sculpture”.
As I went in, I basically turned myself off sensitivity-wise. I was very moved at how this doctor was able to dissect the body and turn it into artistic interpretation, which was quite visually obtainable. As my husband and I roamed through, I started to get a head of him. I viewed a few of the bodies that were staged in different positions. This was very fascinating.
I suppose I was about half way through when I stopped to view a body entitled "Star Warrior." Now, when I stopped to look at this, I could not just view this body and move forward like I had with the others. I was standing there and I was gazing into the face of this human being. Even without most of his skin and little hair present, I must describe him as possibly a blonde haired, blue eyed man at one time. Everything on him (or at least in him) was very much in tact, otherwise. I found that I could not walk away and then that's went my sensitivity heightened. I felt as if he were trying to connect to me. I could feel his energy. This was not what I wanted to experience there. For some odd reason, the other bodies that were displayed did not connect to me. I became panicked. I thought, "Oh no!" I knew that I could not have any of the other bodies exhibited, if they still possessed energy, try to contact me. I slowly started to tune out "Star Warrior," but found that, even with effort, I was unable to fully do so.
I decided at that time that I needed to get out of the exhibit and quickly. As I walked out, I was stunned at myself and bummed at the same time. Yet, the powerful connection there with the one figure made me feel that my decision was proper. I spoke with the staff in the gift shop and they told me a lot of people cannot handle the exhibit. I did ask them if anything strange had ever occurred during this show, but if it had, they said that they were not aware of it.
The funny thing about this I told a few people about this, but really did not go into details on the sensation of the presence there. It came up again when I was chatting with my good friend, and fellow SPIRITS of St. Petersburg member, Brandy. She and a friend had gone to the exhibit and she brought an EMF meter in with her. That is when I found out that out of all the exhibits, she herself picked up EMF spikes that appeared to be a conscious response to questions around this same person – “Star Warrior” -- and her intuition, and the intuition of a friend who had gone with her, was picking up things also.
This was an amazing experience!