Trying to Read Plastic
Attending Bodies: The Exhibition with a Psychic
"The minute you feel uncomfortable," I say, "we'll leave."
I'm talking with a psychic as we approach Bodies: The Exhibition. I don't believe in life after death or any other paranormal phenomena, but I am worried about causing serious and real psychological trauma nonetheless. Seattle Museum of the Mysteries is suing the exhibit for its display of cadavers of Chinese men and women, people that did not consent to their remains being carved up and put on display. If these people have stories, they're probably deeply unpleasant ones.
Finding a "sensitive" willing to attend the exhibit was difficult. Everyone I contacted begged off but one brave medium, a stylish woman who goes by Spookee.
We slow down as we near the doors, take deep breaths and enter.
"The first impression I get is that it's like trying to read plastic," Spookee whispers to me in front of a brain in a box. I'm taking notes and this is making the exhibit's security nervous, who are in turn making me nervous. Spookee, an African American, informs me that she's used to security's scrutiny and politely implies that I should man up a little.
At a figure frozen in a garish ring-around-the-rosie pose with a skeleton, Spookee says, "He had dementia, but he wasn't dangerous. He was peaceful and friendly." A running figure almost brings her to tears: "There was a woman I channeled who was a suicide and I cried for a day and a half after that... This one feels like that." In front of a fat woman cut into thirds, Spookee's hand vibrates and warms up. "This whole place is tapping into my empathy," she says.
Spookee, who has an art degree, takes issue with the gender politics of the exhibit: Most of the male figures are feigning sports like tennis and basketball, but one of the few female figures stands in a come-hither pose. Spookee stands close to the hoochie-mama cadaver, and then backs away, saying calmly: "I had an image of a mother under a tree with a tiny girl, a 2-year-old, in her lap."
That's all the paranormal Spookee registers, and as we leave we're both surprised that things didn't get any more intense. I went in afraid I'd have to carry out a hysterically screaming medium, but Spookee's criticisms have nothing to do with the paranormal.
"I wish there was more educational and scientific information," she says. "I don't think that it's sensational or sadistic, but the lack of information makes it easier to read it that way." Paul Constant