Death is Your Body

01.05.2014 — 06.07.2014

Opening: April 30, 2014, 7pm

Death and dying have made their way into present day social discourse. But death’s most visible sign still appears to be taboo: the corpse. Today, differences in the approach to dealing with the corpse point toward revolutionary changes: the undead, or dissected, dead bodies, are increasingly entering the realm of media in films, television dramas, novels, comics, newspaper reports, and anatomy exhibitions. At the same time, the dead body is present in the realm of the living in a variety of ways—for instance, as foodstuff (dead animal bodies) or as resource (organ donations following brain death). Its de facto end appears to be called into question more and more: biotechnology now makes it possible to renew cells and DNA can be artificially manufactured. Accordingly, the body, as we’ve known it thus far, seems to be mutating into an immortal human-machine. But does the presence of the corpse in media and new biotechnological developments go hand in hand with a fundamental shift in society’s relationship to dead bodies? Are our conceptions of and attitudes toward dead bodies and human existence changing? Will even a taboo be lifted in the near future?

The exhibition “Death is Your Body” takes on these very issues. It presents sculptures, installations, drawings, collages, photographs, and videos by 14 international artists who employ imagined or actual dead bodies as their material. Through metaphors and symbols, the exhibition makes corpses visible, prompting visitors to think about the body and how it is addressed and used. The lifeless human or animal body is not something foreign or repulsive to these artists, instead it is precisely what allows a series of difficult questions to be raised: why does the dead body trigger such a sense of estrangement from one’s own body? What moral concepts exist regarding dead and living bodies? Why does man divide dead bodies into good and evil ones?

Works from renowned artists from Belgium, Germany, France, Kenya, Norway, Mexico, Switzerland and the US will have been on view. Atmospheric and visually dense, the installation of the exhibition was designed to draw visitors in and create the possibility to reflect on bodies, corporality, and death. A comprehensive program of auxiliary events brought together experts from the medical field, politics, anthropology, and theology to contextualize the theme.

Participating artists: AUJIK (SE/JP), Berlinde De Bruyckere (BE) , Tudi Deligne (FR) , Omer Fast (IL), Gosbert Gottmann (DE), Kaia Hugin (NO), Hannah Hurtzig (DE), Teresa Margolles (MX), Alexandra Meyer (CH), Jana Müller (DE), Wangechi Mutu (US/KE), Thomas Rentmeister (DE), Taryn Simon (US), Raman Zaya (IR/DE)

Curator: Lilian Engelmann

We thank: