On 14 March 2010, I spent an afternoon drawing at the Body Worlds 2 exhibition at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Body Worlds is the pet project of Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the controversial anatomist who developed and patented a
method for preserving anatomical specimens via plastination in the 1970s. The first Body Worlds exhibition — featuring full-sized dissected human bodies in unusual poses — was mounted in Japan in 1995. Since then, Body Worlds has been
touring the world in one incarnation or another (this was second Body Worlds exhibition at the Franklin Institute within five years), and often stirring controversy in its wake. Religious groups often object to the exhibitions as disrespectful of human remains,
whereas the medical and legal community has questioned the means by which von Hagens acquires bodies.
This particular drawing is a portrait of a preparation intended to show the body in a relaxed pose. The body is posed upright in a perspex box, hands clasped behind the head. This pose might more effectively suggest a restful posture if it were reclining,
but to me it seems more like a captured prisoner, as absolutely no one ever stands like this unless they are being detained by police or enemy soldiers.