The exhibition “Our body, à corps ouvert” banned

Publié le 30 Apr, 2009
At the beginning of April, the associations “Ensemble contre la peine de mort” and “Solidarité Chine” have summoned the organizer of the anatomic exhibition “Our body, à corps ouvert” which, after Lyon and Marseille, took place in Paris since February and presented 17 corpses which could be those of Chinese prisoners or people sentenced to death. According to these associations, such exhibition was against the article 16 of the French Civil Code which “prohibits any violation to the dignity of the person” and breaks the French Public Health Code according to which the bodies can only be used for therapeutic and scientific purposes. 
On 21st April, the Court of First Instance of Paris has banned the exhibition, considering that it constituted “an obvious violation to the respect due to corpses” and “a breach to decency“. And, on last 30th April, the Court of Appeal of Paris confirmed this prohibition on the grounds that “the company which organised the exhibition does not report the evidence, which is its responsibility, of the licit and non fraudulent origin of the corpses and the existence of authorised consents“.


Marketisation of the bodies
Professor of philosophy at the school of medicine of Marseille and vice-chairman of the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE), Pierre Le Coz was against the pedagogic – even artistic – argument developed by the organizers who, according to him, “in fact only serves to hide a more prosaic preoccupation, of lucrative nature“. Also he denounced a certain “colonialist vision of Asian people“, adding that, last time “we performed an industrial anonymous, depersonalised treatment of the corpses; it was in the death camps“. “How did we arrive to this, in a State where the law of bioethics proclaims the unavailability and the non-patrimoniality of the human body?“, he wondered.


Opinion of the CCNE
Seized en 2008, the CCNE expressed a negative opinion on the subject, estimating that: “the major unsaid” of the exhibition was “the encouragement to voyeurism in the guise of science“, that it introduced a “technician side” on “desingularised” bodies and that “it would be naive, false and undoubtedly dangerous to let the public believe that formerly there was only an occultation of the death and that finally we achieve the disclosing of the Truth about the men“.

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