Forensics: the Anatomy of Crime


The Wellcome Collection has a thought provoking exhibition of the history of forensics which manages to be both gruesome and very moving. The testimonials of the investigators of Balkan genocide are a case in point.

Among the historical presentations there are also a series of Japanese watercolours, depicting the nine stages of the decaying body of a noblewoman. This type of sequence is called kusĂ´zu. Their obvious intention is to provoke a stoic reflection on the impermanence of embodied existence. Because the artist doesn't strive for realism at all, there is something particularly brutal about the images.

To me, they are a good example of the point at which truth and realism diverge. The decaying corpse is a point of abjection. Can realism capture the sort of visceral reaction we have to death in a way that helps us to meaningfully confront it?

Forensics is at the Wellcome Collection until the 21st of June, 2015

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