So. As the monster Tutankhamen exhibition rumbles to a close at the Dome, we look towards the next blockbuster – Bodyworlds.
I confess that the stripping down of dead (I prefer “differently manifested” – we Phantoms are sensitive about such loaded words…) bodies and reinventing them as art leaves me pretty much literally cold although I daresay it will pack in the crowds, if not quite in the numbers that visited King Tut.
But however radical the exhibits of Gunther Von Hagens may be, to me this is a logical step on from the sort of entertainment that regularly appeared at the Greenwich Fair twice a year.
There were all sorts of freakshows – from Royal Waxworks where “the whole court of France is to be seen,” through prize fighters and quack-doctors, to a German ox with six legs and a ‘learned dog who could shuffle and cut” – but there were dead bodies too.
Ok – so we went to gawp at the corpses hanging from gibbets whereas these bodies are donated but in some respects there will always be a question looming over an exhibit like this. However much it’s dressed up as “educational” and “scientific,” it is, let’s face it, just a good old-fashioned circus sideshow, albeit on giant proportions. “Plastination,” the name for Von Hagens’s technique, is a wonderful word – and sounds just like one of the cures a quack doctor from the 19th Century would use for a miracle cure.
I guess it’s hard to follow an act like Tutankhamen (another dead body if you want to get technical, though of course we only saw the results of unwrapping him.)The site is set up for blockbusters and they don’t come along too often. The other giant hitter, the Terracotta Army, has just been to London and Pompeii doesn’t look like it’s coming our way any time soon (more death with both of these – what is it about us and death..?)
Which massive exhibition would you like to see coming to the O2 next? And while we’re about it, there’s still loads and loads of room inside that Dome. Maybe we should be putting first-dibs on what we’d like to see in the rest of the space. My own personal choice would be a bowling alley. I’d want it all retro like Bloomsbury Lanes – though maybe without the karaoke.
Any other ideas?