The impact of things that are unseen being visible and out of context is well known. And usually shocking.
His work for the Body Worlds exhibitions shows whole bodies plastinated in lifelike poses and dissected to show various structures and systems of human anatomy, which has since met with public interest and controversy in more than 50 cities around the world.
Religious groups, including representatives of the Catholic Church and some Rabbis have objected the display of human remains, stating that it is inconsistent with reverence towards the human body.
Von Hagens has developed new body sectioning methods that yield very thin slices, which he has called wafer plastination. These “wafer” slices can then be plastinated and used for anatomy studies.
His work inspires awe and revulsion. We are seeing something that is not normally seen. We are not used to the dead being on such public display, or of seeing the intimacies of the human body in this context.
And yet there is a surplus of people leaving their bodies to von Hagens for his art.