’Our Body’ exhibition banned in France
2010-09-20 0:00

By Priscille LaFitte | France24.com


France’s highest court has held up two previous verdicts banning the "Our Body: The Universe Within" exhibition, making France the first country to ban the controversial human body expo.

The highest judicial authority in France has definitively banned the exhibition “Our Body: The Universe Within”, upholding two previous court decisions that raised concerns over the striking expo that showcases actual human body parts, organs and skin.

The ruling is significant both because banning exhibitions in France is a rarity, and because it makes France the first country to chase out “Our Body". The exhibition has enjoyed successful runs in the United States and Germany.

“Our Body” uses a technique of polymer impregnation, developed by the German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, that precisely preserves human tissues down to the cell level and cancels putrefaction. It has stunned visitors with its detailed display of intertwining human body systems.

The exhibition was presented to French audiences, first in Lyon and Marseille in the spring of 2008, then in Paris in February 2009, before running into legal troubles.

Body of evidence

Soon after their arrival, the origins of the bodies became a matter of debate in France. Two organisations, “Together against the death penalty” and “Solidarity China”, said they suspected the bodies came from the Chinese prison authority, and not from Hong Kong medical schools, as “Our Body” producer Studio 2 Productions claims.


The exposed body parts and organs are so perfectly preserved, the two rights organisations argued, that they must have been delivered just moments after death. Another observation brought forth by the two groups was that the bodies show no evidence of serious pathology that could have caused immediate death.

The critics of the expo maintain that the bodies probably belonged to former Chinese death row inmates, around 6,000 of whom are killed each year.
Encore Productions, the local French organiser of the exhibition, was unable to prove – on grounds of medical confidentiality - that the Chinese group that provided the bodies had not procured them from prisons.


Appealing… to consumers?

After the rights groups presented their case, a Paris judge ordered “Our Body” to be closed in 2009. The exhibition organisers shot back that the ruling had been “ecclesiastically” inspired, based on the judge’s “personal beliefs” and appealed the decision.

Ten days later, a Paris court of appeals confirmed the ban, but offered a different reason for its decision: the judge insisted that proof of origins needed to be displayed on exhibits. Encore Productions launched a new appeal.

After deliberation, France’s highest appeals court has also sided with the plaintiffs, but on entirely new grounds. According to the presiding judges, the display of corpses for commercial purposes goes against the French civil code, which states: "The remains of the deceased should be treated with respect, dignity and decency."
For Patrice Spinosi, the lawyer for Encore Productions, the decision sets a questionable precedent. “‘Commercial purposes’, is at best a vague term,” Spinosi says. “We will see if any exhibition you have to pay to see can become a candidate for this ban,” he added.

For the winning lawyer, Richard Sedillot, the issue is also far from over. He says he has already been contacted by Canadian and Eastern European organisations that hope to bring similar charges against “Our Body” in their own countries.

Article from: france24.com




Related Articles
8-Year-Old Painting Prodigy "Mini Monet" is New Art World Star
The (Naked) Nobel Brotherhood and Vigeland’s Strange Art in Oslo
Ostrich egg patterns oldest form of art and communication
Alan Moore - Art is Magic (Video)
National Art Hate Week
Israeli art show removes pictures showing suicide bomber as Virgin Mary after public furor
Neurology and the Passion for Art (Video)
Czech EU art stokes controversy
Gunther von Hagens exhibition criticised over corpse sex display


Latest News from our Front Page

Scary Times For California Farmers As Snowpack Hits Record Lows
2015-04-02 2:45
The water outlook in drought-racked California just got a lot worse: Snowpack levels across the entire Sierra Nevada are now the lowest in recorded history — just 6 percent of the long-term average. That shatters the previous low record on this date of 25 percent, set in 1977 and again last year. Morning traffic makes its way toward downtown Los Angeles ...
Sharia Policeman in Swedish School
2015-04-02 0:58
Editor's Note: Unfortunately this is not an April Fools story. On monday morning emergency services were called to Eductus in BorĂĄs, a school specialized in teaching Swedish to immigrants, after a Muslim student threatened classmates who did not abide by his strict interpretation of Islam. They were reprimanded for laughing and a Christian woman who refused to wear a veil fainted ...
“Us” and “Them”
2015-04-01 22:30
I’ve decided to translate yet another one of Julia Caesar’s popular Sunday chronicles available in Swedish on the website Snaphanen. This one is named “Us and Them” and concerns a scandal of epic proportions, the Swedish governments “society coach” program. The plan was for the coaches to assist newly arrived immigrants with getting jobs and becoming integrated into society. The ...
The Expulsion and Extermination of Eastern European Germans: An Overview
2015-04-01 17:40
"Since the end of the war about 3,000,000 people, mostly women and children and overaged men, have been killed in eastern Germany and south-eastern Europe; about 15,000,000 people have been deported or had to flee from their homesteads and are on the road. About 25 per cent of these people, over 3,000,000 have died. About 4,000,000 men and women have ...
Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes, Study Says
2015-04-01 2:24
Your apps want to know where you are Smartphone apps regularly collect large amounts of data on users’ locations, sometimes as often as every three minutes, new research suggests. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they asked 23 people to use their Android smartphones normally, and tracked location data requests from each device with specially designed software, the Wall ...
More News »