Bodies–they have always been something of a problem. Even when in good working order, the body can be cumbersome, messy, demanding, and unpredictable. It runs down; it gets ill; it needs constant attention. Eventually, the body dies, but these adventures are far from over. Where do you put a dead body? Burial arose in part to combat the spread of disease, but death rituals vary with climate and geography. You can’t bury your dead in the frozen ground of Tibet, nor can you build a pyre where no trees grow for use as fuel. How we deal with bodies is therefore culturally specific, intrinsically personal–and yet, the body is also the epicenter of all medicine, and the medical body has problems all its own.
Want to read more? Check out my post at the Dittrick Museum Blog! This series is part of a unique exhibit we are hosting on anatomy art, but also a linked gallery exhibit by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland–Dirge: Reflections on Life and Death.
The body, in its life and its death, has captured the imagination–the aspirations–the horror of our consciousness. I hope you will join the Dittrick and MOCA as we explore our relationship to bodies, in all of their medical and historical (and personal) complexity.