‘Body Worlds: Pulse’ at Discovery Times Square
A man and woman, stripped of skin, are balanced in a balletic embrace, but their skulls and thoracic and abdominal cavities are open from behind and their spines are pulled backward, with organs and muscles attached.
A woman stands erect, also skinless, a slightly melancholy expression emerging from her facial musculature, her belly sliced vertically so we can see her liver and intestines, along with a 5-month-old fetus in her womb.
Another flayed body welcomes us into this new exhibition, “Body Worlds: Pulse” at Discovery Times Square, holding aloft, with pride, the complete coat of skin that has been removed from his body.
These are not models (or allusions to “The Silence of the Lambs”) but actual people who, since 1983, have donated their bodies for such preservation and display. More than 13,200 of the living made such promises; 1,254 of them are deceased, and some of them (with organs from other sources) appear among the 200 specimens displayed here.
You might assume that sliced and pulled-apart human cadavers, preserved in all the freshness of death by infusions of plastics and resin, no longer have the power to shock or amaze. After all, since the German anatomist Gunther von Hagens invented the process he calls plastination in 1977, then started the donation program with his Institute of Plastination, and finally began mounting specimens in “Body Worlds” exhibitions in 1995, some 36 million people have seen the shows in nearly two dozen countries in 11 different incarnations. (This one, “Pulse,” was designed for New York.) A competitor arose, Premier Exhibitions, and opened a series of successful exhibitions in the United States (including one that has been closed at the South Street Seaport since Hurricane Sandy.
(Source: The New York TImes)
The battle over Tamerlan’s body -
As a mortician, I see how people care most about corpses when they want revenge on them
A great piece by Caitlin Doughty that raises a lot of interesting questions.
Vatican denounces Mexico Death Saint -
A senior Vatican official has condemned the cult of Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, in Mexico as “blasphemous”.
The president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, said worshipping Santa Muerte was a “degeneration of religion”.
Cardinal Ravasi spoke at a series of events for believers and non-believers in Mexico City.
The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico.
It is represented by a cloaked female skeleton clutching a scythe.
It is particularly popular in areas of Mexico that have suffered from extreme violence carried out by the country’s drug cartels.
The cult is believed to date back to colonial times.
It merges indigenous beliefs with the tradition of venerating saints introduced by Christian missionaries after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
(Source: BBC News)
10 facts about Hell -
Inferno, the first part of Dante’s poem The Divine Comedy, provides the theme and title for the new thriller by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. The original poem describes a journey through Hell - writer Stephen Tomkins gives a 10-point tour of the underworld.
(Source: BBC News)
Aboriginal remains laid to rest in northern Victoria
In the period following European settlement, thousands of bones of Aboriginal people were taken to museums both in Australia and overseas, often for scientific research.
But in recent decades, museums and other research institutions have handed back skeletal remains to traditional owners so they can be buried on their home country.
This week, the remains of three Aboriginal males were laid to rest in Boort, a small town north west of Bendigo, Victoria.
Clan member Jida Gulpilil says it is the right place for them to be buried.
“[Boort] is a powerful cultural place. It is part of the land where we live, where we walk and where we die as well,” Mr Gulpilil said.
“We need to honour those who walked this land thousands of years before us.
“When we practice our cultural business here we can feel that the place is alive.”
(Source: ABC News)
How many saints are there? -
Pope Francis canonised 813 people on Sunday meaning sainthood is a less exclusive club than ever. And there’s no sign of the Catholic church slowing down.
(Source: The Guardian)
Why Georgians 'dine with the dead' -
In many Western countries graveyards are seen as sinister or even frightening but not so in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
As with other eastern Orthodox countries, it is common for Georgians to honour their deceased relatives by taking food and wine to cemeteries, and having feasts beside the graves.
Although practised thoughout the year, Orthodox Easter is one of the busiest times for the tradition.
Damien McGuinness joined families in the Georgian capital Tbilisi to find out more about dining with the dead.
The Close-up series focuses on aspects of life in countries and cities around the world. What may seem ordinary and familiar to the people who live there can be surprising to those who don’t.
Coffins no longer a must in Ireland -
It will no longer be illegal to bury bodies without coffins in the Republic of Ireland from next month.
Under existing regulations, a body can not be buried unless it is enclosed in a sufficiently strong material such as wood.
The change was made to facilitate Muslims, who are normally buried without a coffin.
However, after 1 June, anyone may elect to have a loved one buried without a coffin.
The Department of the Environment said individual cemeteries could opt out of the arrangement.
The new rule can be suspended if there is a health or environmental issue, such as a cemetery near a water source.
(Source: BBC News)
Music to murder to: crime writers on their killer soundtracks -
Martyn Waites: You’re more likely to see other crime writers at gigs than literary events, so what role does music have in the creation of crime fiction?
In Boston, A Rare Rejection Of The Dead : NPR -
Usually, even the most heinous killers are buried without incident. That’s not true for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, whose body has become the subject of angry protests.
After Outcry, Disney Withdraws Effort To Trademark 'Dia De Los Muertos' -
The Walt Disney Company told Fronteras Desk it will withdraw trademark applications related to the Day of the Dead holiday. Disney made the decision late Tuesday after an avalanche of social media backlash.
Druid wants fake bones at Stonehenge -
A druid leader is calling for fake, rather than real, human remains to be put on display at Stonehenge.
In an open letter, King Arthur Pendragon has criticised English Heritage for the “macabre manner” it plans to display “ancestral remains”.
In 2011 he lost a High Court bid to have bones, found in 2008, reburied.
English Heritage said the remains are not from the 2008 excavation and their “presentation, treatment and storage” will follow strict UK guidelines.
The cremated remains of more than 40 bodies, thought to be at least 5,000 years old, were removed from a burial site at the ancient stone circle five years ago.
According to Mr Pendragon, the bones were the remains of members of the “royal line” or “priest caste” who could have been the “founding fathers of this great nation”.
“There are cremated remains and a full skeleton from one of the barrows, which they’re planning to put on display,” he said.
“This is not only out of step with the feelings of many of the peoples and groups that I represent but is surely against the driving cultural principles of a Unesco World Heritage Site.”
(Source: BBC News)
WORK LIFE: CARLA VALENTINE, MEDICAL MUSEUM CURATOR
A one-day diary from morning latte to lights out
Carla Valentine, 31, is technical assistant curator at Barts Pathology Museum in West Smithfield, London. She lives with friends in Shoreditch, east London
“People are taken aback when I tell them what I do. Spending your days surrounded by body parts may seem unusual, but I love my job. The Barts Pathology Museum houses more than 5,000 specimens, from kidneys to whole human heads, which were once used to teach medical students. Since the Seventies, when teaching methods changed, the building has been in a state of disrepair. It’s my job to conserve all the specimens (some of them are hundreds of years old so age has taken its toll) so students can use them and the museum can open to the public.
My alarm goes off at 6am, then I’ll shower and get dressed. I work with preservation fluids, so my clothing needs to be hardy: vintage combat pants or dungarees and big work boots with steel toe-caps (in case I drop the specimen jars on my feet). I’ll have a cup of tea and walk to the museum in Clerkenwell. The museum is like an old Victorian cabinet of curiosities. As well as eyes, hands, feet and lungs, we also have specimens of conjoined twins and other medical oddities. I’ve even got skulls in my office. It’s like something from The Addams Family.
Utøya massacre survivors: ‘I bear my scars with dignity’ - in pictures
Photographer Andrea Gjestvang’s poignant portraits of survivors of the Utøya massacre in Norway in July 2011 have won her the top prize at the Sony World Photography awards
One Day in History is on show as part of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition at Somerset House until 12 May (somersethouse.org.uk) [The original text said that the Utøya massacre took place in November, rather than July 2011 and has been corrected]
(Source: The Guardian)