Icelandic artist Snorri Asmundsson recently made news headlines for a very bizarre request – he’s asking dying people to donate their corpses for his latest art project. He apparently plans to use corpses in a dance video, promising to return them to their families once he’s done.
Snorri first came up with the idea in 2008 – he received media attention back then for putting up a Facebook ad asking for people on their deathbeds to get in touch with him. “Looking for dead bodies in the name of art,” his ad read. “I need a few corpses for a video installation. If you are dying I would like to borrow your remains after you die. The bodies will be returned to the undertaker in the same condition.”
Understandably, the ad caused quite the controversy in the Nordic island. “It was in all the media in Iceland and I had strange articles written about me,” Snorri said. “Some people contacted vicars asking their opinion. People had decided that I was going to do something really unethical with those corpses. It’s nothing like that.”
He had received about 20 responses back then, but unfortunately the economy collapsed around that time. So his funding got cut and he wasn’t able to work on the video. Funnily enough, he also lost his ‘lead corpse’ – the dying person wrote to Snorri that the idea of starring in a video had given him a new lease of life, and he had made a full recovery!
But now, Snorri’s finally got the money to get the project going again. Some people did point out that he could have done it sooner by purchasing a few corpses from Mexico or China, but he said that he wanted to be ethical and responsible by using bodies from his home country. “I’m not a sociopath, I want to do this art project in collaboration with the deceased person with respect to them and their family,” he insisted.
In case you’re wondering, Snorri’s unusual project is perfectly legal in Iceland. He’s even hired a lawyer to draw up a contract between himself and the dying person. “Legally, I have every right to do this. I’ve never heard that it’s illegal and I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before.”
He chooses to remain tight-lipped about the exact project though. “I’m going to dance with the dead,” is all he’s willing to reveal.