Over Our Dead Bodies

German politicians are likely to hit the roof over two anatomists’ plans to create a show dedicated solely to dead bodies having sex.

They’ve already said Gunther von Hagens and his wife Angelina Whalley’s “Cycle Of Life,” which showed in Berlin earlier in the year, is “revolting” and “unacceptable.” And that had only two pairs of copulating corpses.

Von Hagens and his wife, who produced the Body Worlds exhibition, prepare the corpses using a technique called “plastination,” which removes water from specimens and preserves them with silicon rubber or epoxy resin.

“It’s not my intention to show certain sexual poses. My goal is really to show the anatomy and the function,” Whalley explained in a Reuters interview.

Body Worlds exhibitions have been visited by 27 million people worldwide, although they’ve also attracted criticism for presenting entire corpses, stripped of skin to reveal the muscles and organs underneath. They’re then arranged in lifelike and often theatrical positions.

The way a plastinate is exhibited can vary from country to country to reflect local sensibilities. A vote of local employees decided that one of the copulating female corpses should wear fewer clothes in Zurich than was the case in Berlin.

“Switzerland is the first country that already said from the outset that we could show whatever we wanted,” von Hagens explained.
“Zurich is ready but it’s maybe not so easy in every other town,” he added. “We have discussed whether it is proper to show homosexuality and in what way. This is a very delicate subject.”

He and his wife say they both intend to donate their own bodies for plastination, but would not leave instructions about how to display them.

“I find it a great opportunity to give something to others by donating my body, namely self-awareness,” Whalley explained.

The couple claim some body donors see plastination as an alternative to burial or cremation, giving them more certainty about would happen to their bodies after death.

The new exhibition is expected to open next year.