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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 22:07 GMT
Paint protest at corpse show
Body Works
Louis Haeri, 10, looks at an exhibit
A protester threw a blanket over the exhibit of a pregnant woman and her seven-month-old foetus, as a controversial show featuring human corpses opened to the public.

Martin Wynness, who also tipped paint on the floor, condemned the exhibition as "horrifying" and "disrespectful" to human remains.

It's like a freak show in there

Martin Wynness
His demonstration came as the first crowds to see the Body Worlds exhibition in London found it fascinating but "not art".

The exhibition's creator, German artist Professor Gunther von Hagens, said in a statement: "If anyone feels that they do not want to look at the exhibits... then they have a clear choice of not visiting."

The show of 175 healthy and diseased body parts and 25 whole bodies at the Old Truman Brewery in London's East End, attracted criticism and huge crowds as it toured Europe.

Professor von Hagens created his striking exhibits by replacing body fluids with plastic.

'Sacred place'

Mr Wynness, who was asked to leave by security guards, said he had acted out of concern for his children and insisted he had not damaged the exhibit.

"It's like a freak show in there," he told Sky News.

"I do worry for my children and their future. I think that a womb and a baby is such a private place. It's between the mother and the child.

There is nothing disturbing about it, but it's not art

Piers Storey
"Just as a parent and a human, I feel it's a sacred place that doesn't deserve to be looked at."

But Mr Wynness conceded that few of the other visitors had backed his action.

The majority of the people visiting the gallery were in their 20s and 30s, but a few parents had brought their young children to see exhibits.

Small child

Lecturer Piers Storey, 44, from London had brought his step-son, Louis Davis, aged three.

He said: "I asked if I could bring a small child and they said it was okay. I thought it would be good for him to see what his body looks like.

"There is nothing disturbing about it, but it's not art. It's an anatomical exhibition."

Body Works exhibition opens
One of the giant and eerie exhibits

The bodies in the exhibition were all donated by people before they died.

Andy Wilson, 35, a bank worker from York, did not think the exhibition was too shocking for public viewing.

He said: "You do not have to come here if you don't want to see it. I think you see far worse than this on TV.

"I'm not sure it's art but I suppose it could be."


Film editor Saadi Haeri, 46, from London, had brought his son Louis, 10, and said he felt the exhibition demystified the human body.

Artist Brigita Ozolins, 47, from Hobart, Tasmania, was firmly of the belief that the exhibition was purely scientific and anatomical.

She said: "It makes you think about your body but it doesn't take you to a different level.

"You think to yourself 'This is my body' but it does not manage to get you to think further than that at the level that art does."

Talking PointFORUM
Body part show
But is it art? Ask Prof Gunther von Hagens
See also:

22 Mar 02 | Arts
Corpse show leaves sour taste
12 Mar 02 | Arts
MPs condemn body parts show
15 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
The art of anatomy
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