Friday, January 8, 2010

Anatomy art

Warning: This post is a little icky, even for Quigley's Cabinet...

In an earlier post I mentioned that I let the artist define what art is. I would like to temper that a bit by saying that I object to works that break major laws or cultural taboos. Such a thing was done by American John Duncan (1st image) in 1980. In a performance piece entitled "Blind Date," the artist - in his late 20s at the time - procured a female corpse from Mexico, filmed himself in an act of necrophilia with said body, photographed himself having a vasectomy ("to ensure that my last potent seed was spent in a dead body"), and played the audio for an audience in a darkened warehouse ("to explain what can happen to men trained to ignore their emotions"). Seventeen years later, Kristine Stiles spoke about "Blind Date" in a paper presented at the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, and noted that the editor of High Performance magazine refused to publish an account because she found it highly morally objectionable and preferred to be guilty of censorship rather than put that material in front of anyone. When she imagined that the act was the rape of a body in which the spirit may still have resided, Duncan responded that it was like "having sex with meat."

In May 2009, Gunther von Hagens (2nd image, with plastinate) met with similar objections when he unveiled the latest plastinates in his BodyWorlds exhibit in Berlin. In the "Cycle of Life," the bodies of a man and woman - who consented to the pose prior to their deaths - are shown having sex. I learned of this in the weird news at the time, but did not know about John Duncan's precursor until I read The Anatomy of Body Worlds, which I just finished reviewing last night. Eeeeeeeew.

1 comment:

  1. It is a relief to know that atleast consent was giving for the Body Worlds poses, although the back story for that process seems kind of interesting on it's own.

    I must say that when one of your posts comes with a warning I pause and proceed with great caution!


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