In 1984 I moved to London, England where I had another exhibition of my freeze-dried sculptures at Cuts Gallery, on Kensington Church Street.
As part of this exhibition, I put a sign in the gallery’s front window that read: “WANTED: legally preserved human limbs and human fetuses.”
The next day, the police visited the gallery, looked at the sculptures, and then left. Later that day, the London Evening Standard newspaper reported:
Despite outraged protests, the good citizens of W8 will have to put up with a grisly poster in a Kensington Church Street window:
It reads: “Wanted: legally preserved human limbs and human foetuses.”
The message is from sculptor Rick Gibson, whose exhibition Dead Animals is running at Cuts Gallery.
Gibson has assembled a gruesome collection of subjects including freeze-dried cats. He uses a special freeze-drying technique before turning the animals into “art.”
“The point of the exhibition is to question the way we use animals and the way we view death,” says Gibson.
The local police do not agree and have paid a visit to the gallery.
“We have taken advice from the local council and apparently there is nothing we or they can do about it,” says a spokesman. “But members of the public have said they find it offensive.”
I never met these offended people, but I did meet a pathologist from a local university who told me that his laboratory had a glass jar containing two preserved human foetuses.
He also told me that, twenty years earlier, the jar had been full of embalming fluid. However, at some point during those twenty years, the jar had cracked open and the liquid had evaporated away. As a result, the foetuses were dehydrated and shriveled. He said that I could have them but he warned me that they were in very bad condition.
I told him I knew a chemical technique that could swell the foetuses back to their original shape. He seemed doubtful, but the next day he returned with a brown paper bag containing a dusty glass jar. And at the bottom of that jar was something unrecognizable.
Regardless, I thanked the man for the gift, we chatted for a bit more and then he continued on his way. The next day the exhibition ended and I never saw the man again.