"In this contemporary world, the changes in art either confuses or instigates the human minds more. The fusion of these two seems to be thje intention of the German Gunther von Hagens. Graduated in Medicine in the University of Heildelberg, he soon realized the paralel path between art and his work.
Deterioration is an eminent process and, since some species shrink considerably in when exposed to the atmospheric circumstances, man, since Antiquity, developed a series of methods that aim at preserving the organic tissues.
Since 1977, Hagens develops one of these methods, the "plastination", that, with astonishing techniques, seeks to preserve the tissue in a perfect way, almost causing an ilusion of life.
The final result makes the exemplars dry, inodor, and indefinitely durable. And even more. It mantains its original relief and the celular identity. To this, the process requires four steps: Fixing, Dehidration, Forced Impregnation and "Cure".
Obviously it was just a matter of time before plastination started being used for artistic projects. Not that using human bodies to make art has been something new, because it wasn't. Just check the books of History of Art. But Gunther goes to the extreme in the creation of his works. Scenarios of rare beauty are achieved by human bodies and even dead fetus.
Macabre, apelative or art? Inaugurated in Japan in 1996, the exposition "Body Worlds" arrived in London causing an enourmous controversy, protests and what every artist loves, a lot of attention.
Corpses and body parts are exposed as if they were bad constructed models. But the detaisl that refer to human beings are still evident: nails, teeth, eyebrows. Organs dispersed creating their own intriguing universe.
Despite the fact that the bodies are without skin, the humanity didn't loose its characteristics. You are still capable of imagining them in a "normal" life. The art of the master sculptor and the plastination presents its vigor in a most impressive way.
26 corpses and 180 body parts are the main attraction of this polemic exhibition. According to von Hagens, the idea is to be educative and instructive, teach people to see how the human body works. But he also admits the idea of an artistic value to the works there exposed. And that's where all the story begins. At the same time that it's undeniable the appelative value of this kind of work, the morbid desire is activated: would it be just for some artistic value or an animal side working on a more evident way?
"Body Worlds" presents, for example, a corpse riding a horse and holding a brain in his hand. A woman, as if swimming in the air, cut in half. And the most polemic piece, a woman, 8 months pregnant, dissected, with the fetus showing in her womb.
The organization of the corpses in this way was the result of a research to evidence the complete work of the human body, how the bones connect with eachother, and how the muscles look in certain positions. There's also a collection of fetuses, to show how acts the developement of humans. With this thematic, the British critics attacked the exhibition. According to some of them, it's nothing but a Victorian freak show.
Gunther von Hagens replies: "It's obvious that the problem of denying Death is a problem of the pseudo-intellectual artists". I'd go even further. It's a moral problem, outdated and childish, an irrational and protecionist side that won't admit beauty in the human body after the end of life, a reactionary and almost religious. Working with inert human flesh is impactating, it raises esthetical and philosofical questions. Common in a nostalgic way of doing art, where these two points, philosophical and esthetical had more value than a mere concept scrawled next to an instalation.
The artist goes to the limit. Works with conceptions almost Renascentist to crumble perfection. It also makes a clear apologia to human creation. In a time when we're all surrounded by technologies, cybernetic advances and artistic virtual constructions, Gunther von Hagens creates his art based on science and exacerbated realism.