WORKS FROM THE MMK COLLECTION


Forensic Anthropology Research Facility, Decomposing Corpse
Knoxville, Tennessee
, 2003/2007
color photograph
94, 8 x 113,9 x 3,2 cm
plate: 16,6 x 11,4 cm
edition 6/7+2A.P.
The decomposing corpse of a young boy is studied by researchers who have re-created a crime scene.

The Forensic Anthropology Research Facility, popularly known as The Body Farm,
is the world's chief research center for the study of corpse decomposition. Its sixacre
plot hosts approximately 75 cadavers in various stages of decomposition. The
Farm uses physical anthropology (skeletal analysis of human remains) to help solve
criminal cases, especially murder cases. Forensic anthropologists work to establish
profiles for deceased persons. These profiles can include sex, age, ethnic ancestry,
stature, time elapsed since death and, sometimes, the nature of trauma on the bones.
Enzyme and insect activity in the corpse often determine the rate of decay and time
of death. The Farm is currently working to establish a control rate of decomposition
by identifying a substance that decays at a stable rate. This unidentified substance is
referred to as “the half-life of death.”
Corpses were first brought to the facility in 1980 as donations from the state
(unclaimed bodies) or from families donating on behalf of the deceased. Since then,
over 900 cadavers have been placed into short and long-term setups, or decomposition
scenarios for study. After decomposition, results are entered into a research skeletal
collection and statistical database called FORDISC (Forensic Discrimination) which
is used worldwide to supply characteristics of unknown murder victims. Due to
protests, The Body Farm is protected by a razor wire fence and 24 hour surveillance.
Aquired 2007
Inv. Nr. 2007/79
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main
Gift of the artist
picture credits:
© Taryn Simon
Photo: Axel Schneider
Taryn Simon
* 1975 in New York, NY (US)