Almost exactly 200 years after Aldini performed his shocking experiments on the body of George Forster, there was another taboo-breaking use of dead bodies in front of a London audience. This time, the performer was Gunther von Hagens, a Polish-born anatomist who came to fame and infamy through his development of a technique known as ‘plastination’, which enables the internal tissues of the body to be preserved and displayed. Von Hagens has to date produced four ‘Body Worlds’ exhibitions in which partially dissected, plastinated human corpses are displayed for the public to view. Wearing his trademark black fedora, he has also conducted public human dissections and autopsies. In 2002, he performed the first public autopsy in Britain for 170 years; its audience, unlike Aldini’s select invitees, was anyone who tuned into the UK’s Channel 4. Needless to say, such events caused great controversy. Many people felt that the corpses were treated in a disrespectful manner; there have been allegations that von Hagens has been unethical in sourcing his corpses.
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