Anatomy of a controversial new exhibition

Story by Jack Foley

ART enthusiasts with a strong stomach should be attracted to a controversial new exhibition in Brick Lane which features human corpses.

Entitled Body Worlds, the exhibition will feature 175 healthy and diseased body parts and 25 whole bodies, including that of a pregnant woman with her womb exposed to reveal a seven-month old foetus.

It was given the go-ahead by the government after it decided that it was not breaking the law and will open on March 23 at Atlantis Gallery at the Old Truman Brewery, running until September 29.

Other exhibits include a man who has been entirely skinned, with his skull cut away to reveal his brain, leaning forward over a chessboard.

The event is the brainchild (sorry!) of Professor Gunther von Hagens, who uses a process called plastination - which he has spent 25 years developing in Heidelberg, Germany.

Fluids in the body are drained and exchanged with a type of plastic, giving the bodies a high degree of rigidity which means they can be displayed in life-like poses.

All of the featured corpses have been donated, many by people who have visited the exhibition, but they continue to create controversy, with many objectors describing it as 'insensitive' and 'designed to shock'.

Prof von Hagens maintains that his work is an opportunity for people to understand more about the human body. But his comments did not prevent the Government from scrutinising the 1984 Anatomy Act and the 1998 Human Rights Act to see if it complied.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that the legal position was not clear cut enough for it to raise any objection.

The Body Worlds Exhibition can be viewed from 9am to 9pm and tickets cost £10 (conc £8). The Atlantis Gallery at the Old Truman Brewery is located at 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL. Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street
Info line: 020 7053 000