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Look What They’ve Done to My Brain, Ma

Look What They’ve Done to My Brain, Ma

A real human brain is on display… as an art exhibit.

Consider the human brain. An exhibition in London offers a real human brain — from the artist’s point-of-view — alongside a film of a neuropathologist performing a “brain cut up.”

The brain. Home of the mind, creative impulse, and some would say the soul. Presented by GV Art, seven artists consider the human brain using sculpture, painting, drawing, etching, photography, and scientific materials.

London’s contemporary art gallery, GV Art, aims to explore the inter-relationship between art and science and how these areas cross over and inform one another. GV ART is the only private gallery in England to hold a Human Tissue Authority License for Public Display and Storage.

The exhibition is called Brain Storm and features the actual brain of a deceased multiple sclerosis patient. Visitors are able to see first-hand the destruction multiple sclerosis causes to the human brain. According to The Daily Mail, the family consented to the public display but chose to remain anonymous. The publication also reports that critics question the decency of the display in the name of art and find it degrading.

From The Daily Mail:

“Conservative MP David Amess, a former member of the health select committee, told the Evening Standard: ‘It’s one thing if this is done in a laboratory, but it’s degrading to put body parts on display in a public place. In my personal opinion, this is a disrespectful way to treat the human body and is unacceptable.’

But Dr Dexter today rejected claims that it was in bad taste to display the brain, which will be sent back to The Tissue Bank for research.

He said: ‘There’s a lot of mystique about the brain and this raises awareness about what happens when someone has a disease like MS.’”

Is this type of public exhibition a powerful educational tool or just plain degrading to the human body? Would you donate your own brain to such a cause… the brain of a loved one?

Related Reading:

  1. Care2 Blog: Living with MS
  2. What is MS? Who Gets It and Why

Read more: , , , , , , , , , ,

Photo is in the public domain courtesy of Ondrejk

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9:48AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

I think it was a marvelous concept, not degrading at all.

Recently in Austin, and a few years ago, in NYC, I saw the exhibit of the human body (it has different titles, in different cities), and it was glorious and fascinating.

Kudos to science AND art!

10:51PM PST on Jan 29, 2011

What a fascinating contribution to science, education, and art.

8:45AM PST on Jan 29, 2011

thanx...I'd appreciate the exhibit

9:23AM PST on Jan 24, 2011

every living thing has a brain its normal

11:36PM PST on Jan 22, 2011

There have been displays that have been linked to executed Chinese political prisoners. 60 Minutes Brian Ross traveled to China and found very disturbing information. There is something very ghastly about this whole "business." While I love science, the potential for abuse is too ugly to take lightly. This specific example in the story may not be an example of such a thing. But, how exactly is the provenance of a body part established, how many hands are involved and if someone is making lots money... there's just such a profound reason for pause.

They had an entire body preparing industry - it was disgusting. I couldn't find archives of it, only references to it, otherwise I would have provided a link.

1:18PM PST on Jan 20, 2011

i find it degrading...but like everyone else..i have a choice...i don't have to see i won't go...

9:49PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

Noted, thanx

5:35PM PST on Jan 16, 2011

Body Worlds exhibits whole human bodies that have been donated
and using plasticination to preserve them show veins, muscles, etc as well as lungs damaged by smoking and other organs that have been damaged by disease. A facinating and educatiional

Why get upset over showing a brain?

6:37AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

I don't think the brain tissue on display is being described as art, but is fact an adjunct to the exhibtition to educate visitors as to how the artists are informed by the brain when creating their works. No different from Leonardo da Vinci or Michealangelo really.

11:22PM PST on Jan 13, 2011

I saw the traveling "Body as Art" exhibit here last fall and was fascinated by it on several levels.

HOWEVER....there were no ovaries or testicles displayed. I found that odd and wrote to their site...."no special reason" they replied.

BALONEY! They showed everything else...why not ovaries? The penis was shown and labia....

Strange thinking going on here.

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