The consent of corpses to be exhibited

Special report: Frontiers of humanity
By Arnaud Esquerre

In 2008-2009, an exhibition of corpses named Our Body took place in France. This article first analyses the controversy about this exhibition. Then, the article compares Our Body with the case of corpses exhibited in French public museums. Finally, the article examines the arguments of the judges who forbade the exhibition. This case study proves that corpses are an unusual category of objects which cannot be kept in private space except if they are allowed to. Even if corpses are in public spaces, they cannot be exhibited in a public space unless there is a pre-mortem written consent by the person. However, public institutions can exhibit corpses, without this consent, and transform these corpses into museum pieces.


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