Extreme bodies: art to stimulate the mind, or a modern day freak show?BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2695 (Published 16 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2695
- Naveen Puri, GP registrar, Kennington, London
Mark Quinn is a British artist who is preoccupied with extremes of human form. His 2005 sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square attracted huge media attention (BMJ 2005;331:849, doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7520.849). A confident, poised, and pregnant Lapper, born with shortened legs and no arms because of phocomelia, was presented as the embodiment of dignity.
Quinn’s current exhibition, at the White Cube gallery, in North East London, is named after a series of individuals who have undergone extreme physical transformation through hormone therapy, cosmetic surgery, and gender reassignment. Unfortunately, the apparent intention to shock almost gives the exhibition the feel of a modern day freak show, and has the effect of marginalising the extremes Quinn has previously sought to champion through his work.
As you walk through the oversized doors of the White Cube gallery, your attention …