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SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR

H O L LY L U L E I L A I PA R K H O U S E


Front Cover Image: ŠAmie Potsic 2001 E 1, Thin Skinned Thick


SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR in Contemporary Art

by HOLLY LULEILAI PARKHOUSE

Critical Writing in Art & Design Royal College of Art 2015


Abstract Thinking through and around the idea of Skin as Medium and Metaphor in Contemporary Art, several short essays explore the ways practicing women artists are rethinking identity in contemporary visual culture. Focusing on skin as a medium, the project explores the multiple ways women artists are using skin to confront and reimagine traditional representations of the self, other and skin as object. It takes the form of an exhibition catalogue, collecting the various perspectives of these artists, while drawing on the shifting significance of the skins we live in. It features several extracts from interviews with the artists in order to engage with the multifaceted ways skin can be interpreted. Skin may appear to be a familiar territory, but for many of the artists presented it remains a site of conflict, which encourages discussions of subjectivity, race, gender and class, and unexpected ways of approaching skin.


– page 7 – SKIN THAT SEES – page 11 – SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR – page 23 – MOTHER’S SKIN – page 33 – SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE – page 47 – SUBVERTING SKINS – page 63 – SKIN AS SURFACE – page 75 – BEYOND SKIN – page 78 – CATALOGUE – page 106 – LIST OF ARTWORKS – page 110 – SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY


Skin that Sees

Eyelids closed, tightly Pulled down by the Weightlessness of being; A state between, The world of the dead, And that of the living, Sensing their way Through,

ŠAmie Potsic 2001 / Darrin 2,, Thin Skinned Thick

Eyes that push against, Thin folds of skin, Wanting to be touched, Wanting to be seen, The night resides, Inside this place, Where oblique threads of light, Trail and splinter, As I look out at the world, As I look through my own skin. 7


© Jessica Harrison 2009 / ‘Large Round Table’, Handheld


INTRODUCTION SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR


INTRODUCTION

Skin as Medium & Metaphor

SKIN deep, wrinkled skin, banana skins, rubbers, and stockings, skin-tight, the feeling of skin on skin, and interlocking, that blue-black look the skin has when affected by the night, blushing, bruising, or dying; those men and women who drown in the bottom of a bottle, and all that remains is an empty bar stool, of nothing and of life, sometimes by the skin of their teeth they survive; tree bark, apple peel, and dust on the ground, the skin they say warm milk has, which separates a newborn from its mother, as it curdles and foams at the mouth; afflictions of the body–scars, warts, and crows feet, all that’s imperfect–just marks on the skin, facades, bum prints on couches, formication, skinning, tigers, rugs on the wall; the memory of twiddling, drooping earlobes between index finger and thumb, and ashes in a plastic urn, shrinking bodies down, to the weight of a large bag of flour, and as skin falls away, the body remains; a frontier between the inside and outside, skin is a fragile threshold between life and death, and even when you’re not there, my hands still believe you’re real; touch, just an impression on the skin: the allure of the forbidden, markings, of ritual and taboo, skin senses its way through, a living coat of flesh, adorned in hairs, a tactile boundary between the self and other, it flushes of a confession, every seven days, skin regenerates itself, decays and ages, shedding skin, like a snake, that stretches, contorts, moulds and bends, over bone, blood and muscle, and, when it grows and shrinks over time; like hours spent in the bathtub, wrinkling hands and feet, leaving them prune-like, tightening our grip, flaking like gold beater’s skin, there’s cosmetics and Botox, used to iron out laughter lines, by paralysing facial muscles, and freezing smiles: transfer cells, tissue, and fat in bulk, there’s liposuction or fast food chicken with neon lights; skinn, of Norse derivation refers to a covering or integument, a husk, shell, or rind, coat, canopy, veil, a fish, and an aircraft, and ‘to skin’ something would describe its removal. 11


SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR An adult skin laid out flat could cover 21 square feet, it is the largest human organ, and functions like a protective garment. Clothes behave much like a second skin and can retain the scent of their wearer, even after death, evoking memories of another. Perhaps this allows for just the right amount of forgetting, needed in order for one to remember. ‘One of the first senses to be activated in neonates is touch and it is one of the last senses to subside in the elderly.’1 Touch is one of the five vital senses, which allows the body to perceive things via pressure, temperature and pain – it is a multi-sensory organ and can remember a kiss, a punch, or a burn. Fractal scars can spread like roots across its surface fossilised by an electric blue light. Bra marks and stretch marks leave lines on the skin, knuckles like clenched boulders, and the lick of sweat that gums and pearls, as the spine arches and pushes its way through. Touch receptors on lips, nipples and fingertips respond to the weight of a fly. Even when we cannot see, we can still feel the air caught between a forest of hair on our arms, legs and elsewhere; sometimes a breeze can warm the skin rather than chill. And a diseased body can stimulate both feelings of attraction and repulsion, and fear comes into it too, of experiencing pain, or an encounter, which could allow you to experience something other than yourself. Skin develops from the same foetal tissue as the brain. It is a living record and can become proof of an identity: fingerprints, tattoos, lightening, darkening and tanning of skin and stigmata. It allows for direct interaction, between the mind and body, and helps form a relationship with the external world, or perhaps it is disembodied. Veins on the skin, transparent trails of human existence, mapping a landscape that has no borders and yet its frame is its own border. Skin is the undoing of ourselves, it is a cuff that reveals a person’s wrist on the underground, and it is that which we keep well hidden. There is a seamless continuity from head, to fingertip to toe. Skin has no beginning, middle, or end. And if so where does it begin? Is it the scalp because it comes out first? Or if it’s a breach birth perhaps the toes? Then would the hips mark the middle in line with the hands? Skin has an affinity with feeling; it is an extension of ourselves that allows us to interact with the physical world. Words begin, as thought does, like a stream of consciousness connecting symbols with objects, sounds with colour, signs with movement, and we figure ourselves in language, the same way we do in our skin. As an external surface it is constantly affected, it responds directly. Skin is a multi-faceted surface, thoughts around skin are multitudinous and this is why I write in this style to connect the thoughts and feelings that pass through my mind. We cannot escape our skin; we experience life from inside it, it is the medium that connects us to the outside world, creating the sensation that we are living both inside and outside of our own bodies.

Skin is the undoing of ourselves, it is a cuff that reveals a person’s wrist on the underground, and it is that which we keep well hidden.

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INTRODUCTION In the Western world, an ageing body and the visible changes that occur on the skin are suggestive of a dismembered body; elderly people are stigmatized, pulled apart, unwanted, and discarded. The elderly wear their own skins as a mark of time; the visibility of ageing is sewn up in every thinning crease, crumple, exhausted furrow, varicose vein, line and wrinkle. Their experiences are written on the body. The elderly are viewed like a great continent with unstable borders and what remains are the skins and bones of ruins. To be stuck in the past is to fall out of the symbolic field, one not accorded to the values of modernity: youth, seduction, vitality, work performance and speed. The taboo of ageing in society is linked to fear. In Exeter Cathedral, Devon, I once read a Latin phrase inscribed on the stone of a tomb: ‘What you are, I once was; What I am, you will become’, it has remained with me ever since. Humans struggle to imagine what it is like to exist in external nothingness, a place of physical un-being, or what it is to be unconscious of ever living – to have not been born. Ageing skins signify illness and approaching death, which expose the fragility of the human condition. The aged body represents two irreconcilable phases of modernity: ageing and death. As Steven Connor wrote, ‘skin is [] made to bear the blame for guilt, time, history, death.’2 To mark ageing skins as visually and metaphorically reflective of these things, is to imply that these are the negative implications and associations we have always had with ageing skins, and will continue to have. Naked it can appear that we are our most vulnerable selves. Why focus on human skin? Why not the nude? The nude is bare-skinned, denuded, exposed, stripped and searched; it is the very fact that the naked body is undressed and therefore notably covered in skin, which makes it a nude. The eye acts like a natural censor that creates a distance between seeing a thing such as skin and thinking through the skin, in the same way that what is right in front of you, your nose, is ignored, overlooked, or blurred by your eyes; it remains out of sight and out of mind. Your eye cannot focus in on human skin as a whole, when seen like this it is no longer ‘skin’ but becomes a figurative nude. Human vision perceives skin as fragments, isolated like limbs, and like any visible thing in the world the human eye can only focus on microcosmic details in order to create a whole image made up of multiple parts. For example even if we are to view a figurative painting and the artist has painted all parts of a nude in focus, having viewed the painting close-up, when a viewer steps back to see it in all its entirety the eye still focuses on individual elements and leaves others out of focus. It could be viewed as a coping mechanism so we are able to bear the unbearable. As Leslie Jamison writes in the Empathy Exams when ‘examined close-up, our most ordinary parts – even the surface abrasions of our skin – become wild and terrifying.’3 Magnified under a microscope we become strangers to ourselves, appearing in some way alien to our own gaze. Yet focusing on skin facilitates an exploration of the territory of body politics for women artists in a new way. Skin behaves much like a fabric sewn together, intricately woven into a material body, it is skin-tight and as humans we cannot escape its presence. We are in kinship with our skin and it demands to be looked at. It is our first point of contact for a human brought into this world. It is a medium of exploration, which can give agency to the artist, like a living canvas it performs; skin shifts shape, adapts, changes, mutates and distorts. Through science and technology we can now create artificial skins, prosthetic skins, virtual skins, the aesthetics of our ‘nature’ are now transformable, no longer fixed, our perceptions and impressions of what is ‘real’ are altered. Skin as a medium becomes an intervening substance through which sensory impressions are conveyed, it forms expressions and memory. Skin is a self-reflexive medium that allows the synthesis of aesthetic models and hegemonic ideals of beauty to come under forensic questioning. The idea of looking at the self through skin is politicised and discursive, enabling a further engagement with the personal, psychological, historical and habitual experiences of the artists. 13


SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR

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INTRODUCTION

©Amie Potsic 2001 / Thin Skinned Thick Installation Photograph

In recent decades, many women artists have begun to use skin as a medium to challenge the body politic. Focusing on practising women artists in contemporary art, I aim to look at those who use skin as a medium and a metaphor. Through several essays, which include extracts from interviews with specific artists, I will explore the mother’s skin, scars and their stories, racial identity and subversion, and skin as object and surface. All the works explore a relationship with aesthetics, politics and identity. The visual nature of skin as a medium is mutable, its meaning and what it signifies is never fixed or permanent; it changes over time.4 Our skin shapes us and in turn our experiences shape our skin. For many of the women artists that I will be discussing, skin has been used as a metaphor: ‘representative or suggestive of something else, especially as a material emblem of an abstract quality, condition, notion, etc.’5 Inscribed with meaning, the skin is thought to function as a signifier of race, class and gender but how we ‘read’ skin is important to consider as we attempt to reconfigure these signs and what they signify. Binaries are political: white versus black, man versus woman, heterosexual versus homosexual, capitalism versus communism, rich versus poor, and self versus other. They oppose one another and are always in conflict or competition with someone or something. One is usually seen as the hegemonic state, naturalised as the dominant group by which the opposing binary is judged. Hierarchies of power are held up by language, signs appear to be naturally predisposed and so the struggle to disestablish the ordering of society and the position of people within it is a prevailing one. To claim anything to be natural especially when considering identity is dangerous. If we consider what is ‘natural’ to us as humans as something nurtured, our ‘natures’ then can be uprooted and destabilised to become changeable and uncertain. The ordering of society can be threatened by attempting to demystify the fixed codes of categorisation, which its foundations are based on. The selected artists in this catalogue are suspicious of the way we judge. They attempt to challenge categories of class, race and gender, used to determine, construct and inform identity. They engage with and unfold narratives surrounding skin, turning accepted and naturalised representations and notions of identity inside out. Skin acts as a metaphor for issues surrounding identity, the personal, historical and environmental. But it also becomes a material that heals, regenerates, is modified and can be designed and sculpted. Skin is used as a medium that works as ‘an intermediate agency, instrument, or channel; […] a means or channel of communication or expression.’6 Drawing upon the multifaceted ways skin can be explored, using it literally and theoretically as a medium, these selected women artists explore the complexity of skin and its multiple meanings and messages, while reflecting on and re-shaping skin’s significance in contemporary art. 15


©Helen McGhie 2014 / ‘(M)other’ series

SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR

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INTRODUCTION

Women are still under-represented in the arts. It is an on going concern in contemporary art with the imbalance of gender visible in galleries across the world. In an article called “Redressing The Balance: Women In The Art World”, author Louisa Elderton wrote in her concluding statement that: ‘Indeed, it could be argued that neo-liberal feminism operating within today’s model of capitalism privileges the individual over the collective, and is disenfranchising women artists by placing too much emphasis on autonomous agency rather than political agency as a group. The dialectic between a female artist’s individual subjectivity and group action is constantly being mediated, diluting the potency of the struggle and the voice of discontent.’7 One of the main problems raised in Elderton’s argument is that individual artists who are successful within the art market such as Marlene Dumas, Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, Bridget Riley, and of course though only recognised much too late in her life, Louise Bourgeois, are recognised for their individual success alone. It is through remarkable figures such as these we witness the individualisation of women and the commodification of their art works in a capitalist market, and this is used to disguise the inequality that prevails. It becomes a deceitful reflection of women’s presence in the art world, creating the illusion that there is gender equality within the art world – when there is not. In 1989, the Guerrilla Girls were asked to design a billboard for the Public Art Fund in New York, they compared the number of nude males to nude females in the artworks on display; the poster featured a reclining female nude from Ingres’s Grande Odalisque, wearing a ferocious gorilla mask. In 2012, they re-conducted the same statistical experiment and this is what they discovered: ‘Do Women Have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? Less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 76% of the nudes are female.’8 In her article, Elderton also refers to The East London Fawcett (ELF), which is the UK’s leading campaign for gender equality. Statistical data they compiled and published in the Great East London Art Audit revealed that: ‘of the 134 commercial galleries in London that were audited, which collectively represent 3163 artists, 31 per cent of the represented artists were women. Further to this, only 5 per cent of the galleries represented an equal number of male and female artists, with 78 per cent of the programmes representing more men than women.’9 According to feminist artist Judy Chicago ‘When [she] was at work on The Dinner Party [in the late 1970s], only one half of one percent of art books dealt with women. More recently, it has risen to 2.7%.’10 Even though it is positively increasing, the low percentage, still visibly foregrounds the concerning gender imbalance in the art world and art history, which still remains a poignant and unresolved issue. It is for this reason that this catalogue focuses solely on women artists, collectivising them, not out of a desire to exclude men but out of a need to recognise the work of practising women artists in contemporary art. But I understand that by naming them ‘women artists’ this could engineer them to become gender specific, and therefore raise the question as to whether separating women artists amounts to a kind of ghettoization that also prevents the work from being recognised and valued to the same degree that male artists have been throughout history.

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SKIN AS MEDIUM & METAPHOR Skin behaves like an interface, a surface that allows interaction across space and time, between one and another. Skin is both a habitat and a repository, keeping our insides in place and retaining our bodily fluids. Anatomical specimens of skins preserved in glass jars, left floating in alcohol at the Royal College of Surgeons are both fascinating and disturbing. Here, the glass performs much like a transparent skin, distancing the viewer and at the same time allowing for closer inspection of the object. Whilst characterising skins, artists must also preserve or contain them, whether using prosthetics, replicas, fabrics, paint, moulds, photographs and film, to document, record it and make impressions of skins; the visual nature of this is to use a material much like a skin or screen. As discussed by artist and writer, Chantal Faust, in her lecture Haptic Aesthetics, skin can distort and disturb. Skins become trapped behind transparent skins of the screens, whether in film, or photography, viewed on cinema, televisions, projectors, computers, and smartphone screens.11 The way we frame our skins, the way we view other skins and see our own skin is changing. With artificial boundaries and the flesh of the image becoming pixelated our perceptions of surfaces are altering, but how does this inform the way we relate to skins? How is skin marked by history? And can skin be denuded of memory? The central theme in the exhibition Skin as Medium and Metaphor explores the multi-disciplinary ways women artists use skin as a living canvas in contemporary art, as they continue to build upon feminist discourses in an attempt to challenge notions of womanhood and identity. The catalogue contains four essays that explore several themes in the exhibition. The first essay: “Mother’s Skin”, explores the work of photographer Ishiuchi Miyako’s series Mother’s – traces of the future, 2000-2005, where having photographed her mother’s body in her last dying days, after her death she preceded to document her mother’s possessions; a relationship is then formed between her mother’s body and the objects she left behind. Alongside this, photographer Helen McGhie’s series (M)other, 2014, is discussed as she creates an analogy between the body of the mother and interior skins and surfaces. The second essay: “Scars, Taboo & Texture”, focuses on Amie Postic’s photographic exhibition Scar Stories, 2009 AREA 919 Gallery – Philadelphia, PA, which showed a collection of two bodies of work: Seduce Me (large scale gelatine prints of Jesus and pieta statues and their scars), and Thin Skinned Thick (large scale gelatine prints of human scars, shown alongside audio-recordings of the models stories). Liz Atkins’ multimedia work is discussed alongside Postic’s work, as she attempts to de-stigmatise the condition of Compulsive Skin Picking, and approaches skin as texture. Both artists re-imagine, re-configure, and re-think scars and their symbolism. The third essay: “Subverting Skins”, explores race and identity, illustrated by close analysis of Myra Greene’s photographic series Character Recognition. And lastly, the fourth essay “Skin as Surface” explores the work of sculptor Jessica Harrison and tattooist Siara Hunjan who both mould and modify skin surfaces. Skin as Medium and Metaphor attempts to focus on the work of practising women artists and attempts to connect their individual works through the theme of skin. Through this body of essays I attempt to weave multi-layered readings, to present some of the multifaceted way women artists are re-addressing the body through the medium of skin. As Wayne Koestenbaum suggests, in his book Humiliation, ‘From some points of view, womanliness or femininity is a humiliated quality. Or else ‘femininity’ is something that can be ruined, impeached, reproached, poached upon – a capacity or endowment vulnerable to smear and stain and scar.’12 But this also activates a cause to challenge and confront issues of gender and identity. Metaphors can be derived from bodily experience,13 skin places women’s subjectivity at the heart of the discussion. As a medium, the haptic and optic nature of skin allows artists to both acquire knowledge through experience and the senses, whilst also allowing us to re-think and re-imagine the surface of skin and its conditions. The nature of skin, appears to be readily perceived by the eye, able to manifest symptoms of a variety of conditions both psychological and environmental, whilst also revealing illness, abuse, and sexual drives; it therefore aptly lends itself to women artists as a medium to explore and begin discussions about body politics.

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NOTES

1

Swerdlow, Joel. ‘Unmasking Skin’, National Geographic Nov. 2002: 1-7.

2

Connor, Steven, The Book of Skin. London: Reaktion, 2004. p.95.

3

Jamison, Leslie. The Empathy Exams: Essays. London: Granta, 2014. p.52.

Cf. Ahmed, Sara, and Jackie Stacey. “Dermographies.” Introduction. Thinking through the Skin. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001. p.1.

4

“Metaphor.” OED Third Edition (December, 2001). December, 2013. OED Online. Oxford University http://www.oed.com/

5

6

Ibid.

7

Elderton, Louisa. “Redressing The Balance: Women In The Art World.” The White Review. July 2013. Page 7.

8

“Guerrilla Girls: Naked Through the Ages.” Guerrilla Girls: Naked Through the Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

9

Ibid.

Chicago, Judy. “We Women Artists Refuse to Be Written out of History.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 9 Oct. 2012. Web.

10

Faust, Chantal. Haptic Aesthetics: Don’t Stand So Close To Me. 29, October 2014, Kensington Lecture Theatre 1. CHS Lectures: Across RCA.

11

12

Koestenbaum, Wayne. Humiliation. New York: Picador, 2011. p.13.

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic, 1999.

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ŠHelen McGhie 2014 / Cling (M)other


MOTHER’S SKIN


MOTHER’S SKIN

Mother’s Skin Mother: a giver of life. A woman can have two or three hearts beating inside her at once; for every heart that has existed on this planet, women have given birth to them all. A mother’s body is unlike any other, as it is the first point of contact a newborn has to flesh and skin (even though inhumanly possible to remember the experience) as they move from inside the body to the outside touch of their mother’s skin. Women can be seen to suffer three deaths: that of their youth, their fertility, and finally, their eventual death. A mothers ageing skin can be viewed in Western society much like a diseased body, in a process of decay, symptomatic of their impending death, and the eventuality of our own. But the mother’s body can also be a site of nostalgic re-memory, fascination and useless certainty. The maternal body can be transgressed and the margins re-written.

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©Helen McGhie 2014 / Cavity (M)other

MOTHER’S SKIN

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MOTHER’S SKIN

Photographer Ishiuchi Miyako created a series of photographs titled: Mother’s – traces of the future, 2000-2005, which were exhibited in the Japanese Pavilion of the 2005 Venice Biennale. The works document her mother’s body, captured in her last dying years; her skin is both a symbol and medium. As Peter Stallybrass writes, ‘clothes receive the human imprint’.14 After her mother’s death she preceded to document her mother’s possessions: lipsticks, clothes, shoes, and perfume bottles; a relationship is formed between her mother’s body and the objects she left behind. Feeling a deep sense of loss after her mother’s death, to make sense of her grief and to understand the relationship she had with her mother, Ishiuchi consequently began to photograph her belongings. Mothers #5, 2000-2005, is a photograph of a sheer black chemise left hanging there like a translucent second-skin, a worn world15, just a faint memory of a body that once lived there; light folds appear to hang as if breath were trapped inside its silk frame. This is exhibited beside the photograph titled Mother’s #53, 2000-2005, where her mother’s disembodied breast still haunts the chemise. The skin of her mother’s breast reveals the inevitable signs of ageing, patches of skin on her sunken breast and at the folds of her armpit appear to have been scarred, her delicate skin, weathered by time. These fragmented areas of dispossessed skin invite the viewer to identify with the figure. Ishiuchi captures the effects of ageing through photographing her mother’s skin but it is the curious imperfections of her mother’s skin-scape that arouse a desire in the viewer to touch her, and to believe in her stories. Through these images Ishiuchi depicts her mother as a resilient and resisting woman with an intimate elegance. Her chemise hangs there, ‘waiting’, they endure, but only a residue re-creates the ‘absence, darkness, death; things which are not.’16 One who appears to live on beyond the limits of her body, ‘I am interested in the way that time records itself into things and people’,17 Ishiuchi said. Using photography as her medium to record Ishuichi asserts that although they appear to be archival documents they are in fact a created reality – they imagine her there. She comments that, ‘they’re both photographic and not photographic at the same time. All these small photographs […] are my life itself and the evidence of my life.’18 The process of developing film in the darkroom is one of Ishiuchi’s greatest pleasures, as she watches the many worlds she has created come to life, as she recovers her mother and contains her skin within a photographic purgatory. Helen McGhie recently graduated from the Royal College of Art, receiving a distinction for her MA in photography. Her work has ‘been rooted in female identity.’19 In her series of works titled (M)other, 2014, she explores skin through the ‘monstrous’ body of the mother, who in turn, becomes a site of fascination. ‘Thinking about space and identity – identity as a sense of place.’20 How does the mother’s skin become a domestic space? The skin is situated as an exterior fabric of the mother’s interior body. McGhie used a rule that the images of ‘[the body] had to have a sense of the domestic […] whether it was textured skin as wallpaper [] or wallpaper as textured skin [and] the domestic spaces had to have a sense of the body.’21 McGhie’s work is inspired by Barbra Creed’s book The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Phycology, 1993, and her work uses skins as a medium to engage specifically with the question: ‘what is the relationship between physical states, bodily wastes (even if metaphoric ones) and the horrific – in particular, the monstrous-feminine?’22 Through an analogy between the skin and body of the mother, alongside images of decaying interiors, insects and cloth, McGhie examines the figure of the ‘Monstrous Female.’ According to Creed horror films contain various depictions of women-as-monsters, as opposed to just women as victims. In horror films the monstrous-feminine and the maternal figure have many faces and the historical and social ‘conception of the monstrous-feminine, of what it is about women that is shocking, terrifying, horrific, abject,’23 is played out in various roles. 25


MOTHER’S SKIN McGhie’s body of work doesn’t subvert or challenge the notion of the monstrous-feminine; rather she plays upon it. The mother, who figures as the monstrous-female, is not who she appears to be, she is not McGhie’s biological mother but a character that performs in front of the camera. This alludes to a subtext of fiction and fantasy behind the idea of the monstrous-feminine. It becomes a ‘fabrication of the self.’24 We are all born out of fiction. Creed suggests that, ‘the concept of the monstrous feminine, as constructed within/by a patriarchal and phallocentric ideology, is related intimately to the problem of sexual difference and castration.’25 From a deep-rooted desire to go against aesthetic models of idealised beauty, what McGhie constructs out of internal, external and bodily skins is something unnerving and seductive. She demands the viewer gaze at the (M)other, 2014 series and come face to face with images that challenge their desired response of wanting to be pleasured. She wanted to attempt to evoke Das Unheimliche, ‘the opposite of what is familiar,’ the uncanny, the un-homely, something strangely familiar. Operating ‘as a forensic photographer’26, McGhie used a large flashgun when photographing inside the house, to create intense shadow and flat light. She did this in order to capture intricate details and to create strong contrasts, exaggerating the unpleasant. As an artist McGhie realised that you don’t necessarily have to be ‘a tortured individual photographing your own pain […], you can make something about anything you want to and make it grey, ugly, seductive, or not.’27

‘[the body] had to have a sense of the domestic […] whether it was textured skin as wallpaper [] or wallpaper as textured skin [and] the domestic spaces had to have a sense of the body.’ 21

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MOTHER’S SKIN On a white wall hangs the photograph titled Circuit, 2014, the image is a close up of a knee, veins trail like a circuit of colourful threads moving like sand worms beneath the skin. The eye rests on the surface, as it attempts to distinguish its texture. And then like a child the viewer realises their separateness from the mother and moves towards the Mouth, 2014, fabric folds and unfolds, pleats, and gathers to form a dark central crevice. It creates the sensation of seeing skin, and could be perceived as an orifice, hole, or an armpit; the viewer experiences the sensation of being comforted by the floral nature of the fabric and conversely disturbed by the dark mouth opening up at the seams. To the left of the Mouth, 2014, is a work called Cavity, 2014, the skin appears not to be in a state of decay as the title would suggest but instead is laid bare like a flattened space. The surface of the back materialises, spreading across the entire image, skin flaps and creases and a dark shadow scars the untouchable – that forbidden place. Then the viewer looks up towards the monstrous-feminine, as she towers over in Cling, 2014, the viewer does not desire to cling to her as the image suggests, she is out of reach. Taken from below, her body and her neck tilt upward, this abstracts her body and stretches the surface of her skin. It appears as if it could engulf the viewer. Moving into the corner of the room two works of interior spaces exist titled: Leak, 2014, and Damp, 2014. They depict the skins of ceilings and walls, disfigured by abject and unpleasant fluids that are seen to be seeping through domestic interiors. This reminds the viewer of the body expelling waste. The artist intended that all of these aspects, as well as the subconscious fear of death, to be fully represented through depictions of the monstrous-female. What is presented is the body of a mother as she towers over and haunts the child (the viewer); there is a continuous threat of her and the subsequent loss of her and her comforting nature. As a material surface and metaphorical landscape, skin can signify the ageing mother, suggestive of loss, fear and death but it is also a territory that can be used to positively characterise and re-imagine the relationship of the mother and child. The skins blemishes, textured surface, and markings of age, blown up to a large scale, oscillate between feelings of repulsion, beauty and fear – of that which is unknown. Creed writes that: ‘The place of the abject is “the place where meaning collapses,” the place where “I” am not. The abject threatens life; it must be “radically excluded”28 from the place of the living subject, propelled away from the body and deposited on the other side of an imaginary border which separates the self from that which threatens the self.’29 But when looking at the work of both Miyako and Mcghie, who observe, respond and create impressions of the mother in completely different ways, both begin conversations around the taboo of ageing, death and fear. The photograph preserves the image in the negative almost as if it is ‘embalming something there.’30 ‘Thinking through the skin poses the question of how skin becomes, rather than simply is meaningful.’31 Devalued female bodies can be repositioned within a new context in order to rethink their place in history, as women focus on other women and transgress the boundaries between mother and daughter, self and other.

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NOTES

Stallybrass, Peter. “Worn Worlds: Clothes, Mourning And The Life Of Things.” The Yale Review. 81, no.2 (1993): 35-50. Blackwell Publishing. Ltd. p.69.

14

15

Ibid. 35-50.

16

Ibid., 72.

“Miyako Ishiuchi | Tate.” Miyako Ishiuchi | Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/ display/miyako-ishiuchi>.

17

18

TateShots: Miyako Ishiuchi. Perf. Miyako Ishiuchi. 2013.

19

McGhie, Helen. Interview. 2014. In person.

20

Ibid.

21

Ibid.

22

Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1993. p.3. Ibid., p.1.

23

24

McGhie, Helen. Interview. 2015. In person.

25

Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1993. p.1.

26

McGhie, Helen. Interview. 2014. In person.

27

Ibid.

28 Creed, Barbara. “Kristeva, Femininity, Abjection.” The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1993. p.2. 29

Ibid., p.9.

30

McGhie, Helen. Interview. 2014. In person.

31 Ahmed, Sara, and Jackie Stacey. “Dermographies.” Introduction. Thinking through the Skin. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001. p.1

28


29


ŠAmie Potsic 1999 / S-Curve, Seduce Me


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE

Scars, Taboo & Texture

When negotiating the self and other, both writers and artists attempt to understand wounds, theirs and others, by envisaging scars, literally, figuratively and metaphorically. Scars can be seen as simply disfiguring marks. Whether a cut, a burn, or sore, stitches or scabs, upon healing they all transform into a visible memory. Although scars32 are commonly associated with pain, usually possessing strongly negative implications, pain33, can also be a positive and necessary experiential tool for human survival.34 And scars, an ‘unnatural’ mark on the body’s surface, are, in fact, a physical record and the body’s natural defence mechanism to injury – they are part of the healing process. When the initial pain subsides, skin still remembers. We learn from pain. Scars suggest a state of permanence, something immutable, strangely intact. Suggesting the appearance of discomfort, a scar can become a trace of human suffering. Additionally, the scar also symbolises something untouchable. Nevertheless, although we cannot directly experience the suffering of others we are not prevented from attempting to relate to and understand narratives of pain, and the experience of others. In fact, this is an integral part of what it is to be human. Diversely, in many cultures scars and scarification are celebrated, humans ‘have long used their bodies as canvases for the expression of cultural identity, community status, connection to ancestors or gods – and to mark rites of passage or to “wear” a permanent amulet.’35 To note one example, in Ethiopia’s Karo tribe, women are scarred with patterns on their torso and chest to enhance beauty. This is in sharp contrast to the general perception of scars in Western culture, where they are still associated with stigma and revealing them is considered taboo; keeping them hidden is acceptable. By contrast to this, scars marked the ruthless nature of Al Capone, became symbolic of the gruesome violence suffered by those inflicted with the Glasgow smile, for example on Tommy Flanagan or Black Dahlia, and scars can also be a mark of heroism for humans who obtained them fighting in the war and survived. Although there is an awareness of non-Western traditions of scarring as celebration, decoration and rites of passage in other cultures, it is still commonly seen as a symbol of pain and damage that disturbs in Western culture. To lacerate is to wound, and to wound is to separate, to divide the body. 33


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE But what happens when a scar, a symbol of damage, pain and conflict, becomes an object of seduction and fascination? In this essay I will explore the ways in which women artists such as Amie Postic and Liz Atkins are using scars, both mental and physical, in an attempt to rethink the uncomfortable nature of them. Scars ‘are a visual and tactile disruption of the expected.’36 So how far can the traditional ways of seeing and perceiving a scarred body as humiliating and shameful be renegotiated in contemporary art? Skin signifies individual subjectivity and objectivity; nevertheless, humans can also become subjugated to a hegemonic system of aesthetics. Revealing the body and reclaiming the nude was once a radical act for women, as they attempted to renegotiate and control their value as an ‘object’ of attraction and desire. But this has now to some degree become de-politicised, as the individual, individuality and otherness has been made ‘acceptable’. All are supposedly individual, everyone is allowed to be, and everyone is seemingly of the same value. But in this new behavioural arena we may ask ourselves who is benefiting from images of skin, flesh and the body? The presentation of bodily scars proposes a directly subjective, personalised image of the individual. In a consumer-driven culture dominated by homogenous ideals of beauty and aesthetics, scarred skin takes on a different dimension, suggesting a different cultural position. But how does the scar relate to gender and body politics? Outside of and beyond scientific approaches, dictated by mainly physical and medical concerns, women artists are actively focusing on the theme of scars to politicise the body and actively challenge the production of images that simply commodify the body through revealing the body and naked skin. Skin, ubiquitously mass-produced on screens and social media appears exhausted, annulled even, as a topic of discussion. But the scar is a site of battle, challenging normativity and the constant barrage of publicly promoted, homogenous perceptions of flawless, airbrushed, re-touched, perfect skin that visually colonise our daily existence. The promotion of a modern, commercial version of classical beauty that we have all become so accustomed to acquiescently viewing; then acquiring ‘skins’ through the purchase of cosmetics, cosmetic surgery and the use of Photoshop, or filters on apps, is omnipresent. This powerful phenomenon, using social and cultural manipulation, to constantly create images of beauty that we are not, unless we purchase and reconfigure our image, is directly challenged by the presentation of images of scars. In this way these women artists are following a romantic tradition of seeking to portray beauty and validity through realism and truthful representation, while challenging a social taboo. In Amie Postic’s exhibtion Skin Stories, 2009, she combined two distinct photographic series: Seduce Me and Thin Skinned Thick, both of which explore the theme of scarring. In this collection she uses large-scale silver gelatin prints to investigate skin, scars and wounds displayed on both religious sculpture and the human body. ‘I view the scar as a physical reality and distinguishing feature’37, she says, ‘as well as functioning as a metaphor for experience, pain, suffering, and healing.’38 Imbued with psychological, physical and spiritual meaning, scars behave as a testament of life; how the body is both resisting and resilient against injury and disease, and yet, conversely is fragile, breakable, and inevitably mortal. Postic’s desire to explore the seductive nature of scars began with a fascination of erotic poetry written in the Middle Ages by nuns who had devoted their lives to Christ. For the series Seduce Me Postic photographed crucifixion and Pieta statues of Jesus in an attempt to explore ‘the mythology and metaphor around the body of Christ and worshippers interaction with the tradition of the statues themselves.’39 How do we read the scars of religious icons and statues differently from the bodily scars of humans? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, ‘the hands want to see, the eyes want to caress’40, humans want to sense something to prove that it is real. In this Biblical story, Jesus’ disciple Thomas had to touch the wounds of Christ to believe in him and to identify him. John 20:27-28: ‘Then He saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see My Hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to Him: My Lord, and my God.’41 To doubt, is to be uncertain of 34


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE reality; for the Apostle Thomas and skeptic to believe that Jesus had resurrected he had to physically experience wanted to directly see and feel the wounds of Jesus – as proof of the impossible. Jesus’ wounded body and the scars of his crucifixion help humans to identify with his suffering; scars become a sign of his humanity. According to the Bible, Jesus died for the sins of others, through the visibility of his pain, believers are able to relate to and empathise with him, therefore taking upon themselves his suffering and sacrifice; they commune in his suffering. The eroticisation of violence and the process of observing suffering can fascinate as much as disturb. The open wounds of Jesus are left scarred in sculpture to preserve the wounds as if they were permanent marks. Postic observed that, ‘the scars on the statues came from the biblical stories and the sculptors who made the statues as well as the wear and tear created by worshippers.’42 Worshippers who over the years have touched and caressed the statues in churches, left the icons worn, and they appeared to be scarred by the sacred touch of many hands. The tactile relationship to the statues led her to begin thinking about and envisaging the experience of humans who possessed scars on their skin.

After photographing each model, Postic recorded each subsequent conversation with them and other participants involved in the process; here they discussed their experiences, for example how they had acquired the scars, and their initial responses to the photographs. These audio recordings were played beside the photographs in the exhibition space. Viewers witnessed the images, whilst hearing voices documenting their internal dialogues around the focus of their scars. The scars perform much like a testament to the lived experience of the models, photographed they behave as confessions of the individual. A process of synesthesia occurs through exhibiting images of the scars alongside the recordings, the voices stimulate an imagined reality, which echoes the visible nature of the scars. Postic moves past the skin’s surface exterior and into the body’s interior.

© Amie Potsic 2001 / Fernando 2, Thin Skinned Thick

Unlike iconography of Jesus’ crucifixion, and its visible aftermath on his body, scars are normally kept hidden in shame, ‘we are encouraged to ignore them or to pretend they don’t exist’43 but in Postic’s project Thin Skinned Thick scars are brought to the surface, as she documented humans with scars and recorded their stories. By cropping the scars and leaving them disembodied Postic encourages the viewers to have a physical intimacy with the scars in a way that wouldn’t usually be experienced, unless by a lover, close friend, or relative. Postic believes her work is ‘directly subverting notions of traditional beauty’44, but I think she’s doing more than that by using a traditionally aesthetically beautiful medium such as silver gelatin prints she is not only transforming the scars but she is transposing them into another context, subverting and de-familiarising the visual ‘nature’ of the scar.

35


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE Each person she encountered had a different relationship with his or her scar. ‘The scar can represent a positive experience, a terrible trauma, or anything in between.’45 A scar is a physical trigger, a flashback to, and reminiscent of the traumatic, or in some cases not so traumatic incident, that led to the scars eventuality. Photographing bodily scars becomes a form of abreaction, bringing to the surface issues of conflict in order to go beyond the humiliation of trauma and imperfection, to reveal it, is to begin to come to terms with its objecthood. The medium of photography allows for the bodily scars to be recorded and contained as a photographic skin; this physical process engineers a psychological response in the model, activated by looking and perceiving the bodily scar differently. A process of repair and regeneration occurs, as the habitual experience of living with, perhaps ignoring, or attempting to come to terms with a scar day-to-day, is revered as a piece of art. The scar at once an intimate and private entity is renegotiated in a public space, and its appearance reconfigured. In his essay “Mortification”, Steven Connor wrote that ‘[…] it seems, the skin in itself has never been so intensely, libidinally figured as in our period.’46 This he argues is not solely because of the ubiquitous nature of ‘displayed skin’, of the countless images viewed on a daily basis, but because of the multiple ‘skin-surfaces, of signifying screens, exteriors and supports’47. He goes on to suggest that, ‘the first such modern skin-surface was perhaps the photograph, in which a particularly pellucid relationship was established between touch and looking, skin and image.’48 Skin, whether photographed or filmed, printed or digitalised, creates the sensation of wanting to be caressed, of wanting to be touched, and ultimately of wanting to be possessed. For Postic, the medium of photography created a distance between herself and the models, which conversely, allowed her to un-intrusively and intimately explore their scars. She wanted to create ‘images with the same intimacy of touch but without the physicality or tension’49 of touching. ‘The act of photographing each person’s scar was a ritual in itself akin to touch.’50 Photographs are a sensitive medium; the artist plays with light, to fix an image onto the membrane of its surface. The photograph prohibits touch as much as it excites the sensation of touching, it remains ambivalent, but to touch would be to stain, to smudge, or to smear the image. As a child, the visual artist Liz Atkins, had a troubled upbringing, since the age of eight she suffered with a Compulsive Skin Picking disorder. She recalled that one night having picked the skin on her arms as a child, the illness made her zone out, which she described as losing sense of time and consequently not being aware of how many hours she had been picking. The next day was sports day, wearing a sleeveless top, she said: ‘I remember a parent pointing out the marks and saying have you had chicken pox? What’s happened to your arms? I lied and said I’d had chicken pox because it was easier […] I didn’t really deal with it until later in my thirties and so it was hidden for more than 25 years.’51 Now, Atkins uses her skin as a medium to place her illness at the forefront of her work; focusing on skin and texture she openly communicates about her condition in an attempt to de-stigmatise the condition of Compulsive Skin Picking.

She picks at the [skin] over her body, She picks at the [skin] over her body all day.’ 52

36


©Amie Potsic 1999 / Hand and Foot, Seduce Me

SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE

37


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE

© Liz Atkin 2013 / Lavish (Lip)

The history of mental health is a scarred one; violence permeates it. However, changes in mental health laws in the United Kingdom over the last century have set to improve human rights, equality, protection and healthcare for patients. In the words of Roland Barthes, myth transforms history into nature,53 and history, like myths, are conceived, written and enacted by humans. We are made by history but sometimes we forget that we are also its makers. With this in mind can art help to demythologize perceptions of mental health? I would argue that Atkins’ work ‘presents alternatives to the modes of representation, concepts, patterns of thought, and hierarchy of values avoided and sometimes feared.’54 She plays with the nervous tension of revealing that, which would otherwise be hidden; she experiments with repetition, a mode of behaviour familiar to her condition. Visually retelling her experience, allows her to renegotiate her own narrative. It could be argued that Atkins’ work behaves much like ‘alienating art’, in that ‘it so openly displays its constructed nature, [whilst] it also questions whether those things which appear “natural” to us – in particular, familiar modes of representation and perception, as well as established values – really are a part of nature or rather are a product of culture.’55 Beauty is arbitrary but as anthropologist Donald Symons suggests, ‘beauty [lies] in the adaptions of the beholder.’56 Atkins’ work is not conventionally ‘beautiful,’ whether smearing paint, submerging herself in murky water, or shedding and picking acrylic off her skin to create new skin-scapes; it can at times become uncomfortable to watch. Like a glitch on the screen, something appears to be malfunctioning but it goes beyond the physical experience as: ‘[…] The aesthetic of the strange can be viewed as that part of culture in which the boundary between nature and culture is repeatedly put into question, thereby enabling a change in culture.’57

38


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE

She picks at the [paint] over her body, She picks at the [paint] over her body all day.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; 58

39


©Amie Potsic 2001 / Jordan, Thin Skinned Thick

©Amie Potsic 2001 / Fernando 1, Thin Skinned Thick

SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE

40


SCARS, TABOO & TEXTURE Obsessions, compulsion, and uneasiness, shattering violence; her fingers convulse repeatedly. Her disorder presents itself in her everyday movements. They’re inscribed in a symbolic system. ‘[What’s] humiliating is the sexual body itself, its humors and swellings, its pulsations and emissions. Theorist Julia Kristeva uses the word ‘abject’ to describe the fetid, wet, organ centered process.’59 Atkins does not separate herself from the nausea of skin picking, the blood, bruises or scars. ‘I expel myself, I spit myself out, I abject myself within the same motion through which ‘I’ claim to establish myself.’60 She exposes her body and her skin, using it as her medium – her canvas. This is not an act of voluntarily disempowerment, as a woman and artist, she uses her skin to reveal and distort the visual ‘nature’ of her condition, empowering herself between experiencing moments of restriction, manipulation, contortion and release. Her Compulsive Picking Disorder, saved her, allowed her to be in control, her art mirrors her struggle and strength. Atkins is constantly fascinated by the contours of her skin, the creases, the folds, and its changing nature; viewing it like a landscape she attempts to use the camera to capture almost aerial views of surfaces and textures as if taken from an airplane. She continues to express that the nature of her ‘Compulsive Skin Picking had moved around my body quite a lot.’61 And so she ‘tried to sort of re-imagine those areas as new typographies.’62 By turning the camera onto the illness in an attempt to record and document it, as an artist she becomes a mediator between her self and her condition. Art allows Atkins to use how she feels as a catalyst, transforming personal experiences and exhibiting them outside of herself, ‘the skin transforms and presents itself in other ways.’63 She began to study it as a fascination rather than viewing it as a hideous and shameful thing – an unspeakable thing. The thing that dominated her, dominated her thinking, a beast on her back, was made visible, made public.64 Scars can appear to distort and disturb. But here notions of beauty and the grotesque are broken down and challenged as they’re pushed to their limits. As visibility makes scars legible, both Postic and Atkins in different ways seduce the viewer into rethinking the nature of scars, and their own responses to them. The physical scar and the emotional scar are in natural kinship. The scarred skin and the scar itself is no longer defined by its history but is encountered as an object of beauty, rather than a flaw; and by rethinking the narrative of the individual in a public space, it encourages a change in collective consciousness towards the ‘nature’ of scars. Stripped bare, the scars photographed are no longer seen as marks of humiliation. As a medium, skin can be used to challenge hegemonic ideals of youth, health and beauty, and to confront taboos. ‘The print holds the aura of the image, the chemistry, the artist, and the technology all in one.’65 Photography allows for an almost microscopic encounter of skin, and can go beyond the constraints of human vision; skin can therefore be made sexless, and perceived as an androgynous territory.

41


NOTES

32 ‘Since the scab is the mark of the injury, not the injury itself, it transforms the injury to the skin into a mark left on the skin. […] A scab is different from a scar, since a scab will go away. A scar is an arrested scab.’ Connor, Steven. The Book Of Skin, “Scars”, p.51-2.

Referring to: ‘a. Physical or bodily suffering; a continuous, strongly unpleasant or agonizing sensation in the body (usually in a particular part), such as arises from illness, injury, harmful physical contact, etc.’ And ‘c. The state or condition of consciousness arising from mental or physical suffering (opposed to pleasure); distress; (occas.) an instance of this.’ Pain. n.1: OED Third Edition (March 2005) - fully updated OED Online version March 2015.

33

As Fernando Cervero writes: ‘consider for example, the pain that we feel when we touch something hot. The sensation is very intense, and it triggers an immediate withdrawal from the hot object and a strong adverse emotion.’ Cervero, Fernando. Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain. “Preface.” Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2012. p. xii. 34

Guynup, Sharon. “Scarification: Ancient Body Art Leaving New Marks.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 28 July 2004. Web. 35

36

Postic, Amie. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

37

Postic, Amie. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

38

Ibid.

39

Ibid.

40 GOETHE, J. W. von, as quoted by Faust, Chantal. Haptic Aesthetics: Don’t Stand So Close To Me. 29, October 2014, Kensington Lecture Theatre 1. CHS Lectures: Across RCA. 41 “Devotion to the Five Wounds.” The Holy Bible. John 20:27-28. Devotion to the Five Wounds. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.fisheaters.com/5wounds.html>. 42

Postic, Amie. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

43

Ibid.

44

Ibid.

45

Ibid.

46

Connor, Steven. “Mortification.” The Book of Skin. London: Reaktion, 2004. p.36.

47

Ibid.

48

Ibid.

42


49

Postic, Amie. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

50

Ibid.

51

Atkins, Liz. Interview. 2015. In person.

Sexton, Anne. “Ringing The Bells.” Selected Poems of Anne Sexton. Ed. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988. 52

“We reach here the very principle of myth: it transforms history into nature.” Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Trans. Annette Lavers. 1957; New York: Hill and Wang, 1972. P.129 53

54

Grabe, Herbert. Making Strange: Beauty, Sublimity, and the (post)modern ‘third Aesthetic.’ p.159-60.

55

Ibid.

Symons, Donald. “Beauty is in the adaptions of the beholder: The evolutionary psychology of human femal sexual attractiveness.” Abramson, P.R. and Pinkerton S.D (eds.) Sexual Nature/Sexual Culture, The University of Chicago Press.1995. pp.80-120 56

57

Grabe, Herbert. Making Strange: Beauty, Sublimity, and the (post)modern ‘third Aesthetic.’ P.157

58 Edited poem of: Sexton, Anne. “Ringing The Bells.” Selected Poems of Anne Sexton. Ed. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988. 59

Koestenbaum, Wayne. Humiliation. New York: Picador, 2011. p.8.

60

Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. P.12.

61

Atkins, Liz. Interview. 2015. In person.

62

Ibid.

63

Ibid.

64

Ibid.

65

Postic, Amie. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

43


Š Myra Greene 2006 / Untitled, Character Recognition


SUBVERTING SKINS


SUBVERTING SKINS

Subverting Skins

‘There is nothing solid or permanent to the meaning of race. It changes all the time, it shifts and slides […] what racial difference signifies is never static or the same.’66 Race is a ‘discursive construct’67 inscribed with abstract meaning. And because its meaning is never fixed it can be described as a ‘floating signifier’68. ‘Classism is another form of racism’ and skin is still used to classify the human race and signify their separateness. How can skin be documented, categorized, and labelled to form racial identities? If the texture, pigmentation, and multiple skin tones, that spread over one body alone, are in constant flux; let alone the various skins, of multiple shades and colourings that walk the Earth. And as the sun and moon, lights and shadows the myriad and shifting landscapes of the Earths surface, skin too is mutable. How can we extricate ourselves from binaries? Opposites that fall short, of only having two parts, dividing the bodies further from the skins they live in, where:

‘The white man is sealed in his whiteness. The black man in his blackness.’ 69

47


SUBVERTING SKINS

48


SUBVERTING SKINS Until we move away from binary opposites, we will only continue to collude with the perpetual dominance of Western civilisation, of the predetermined self and other. We cannot as a human race experience a historical amnesia, and by forgetting, forget the lives of others, and their suffering. We are shaped by the past and the present consciousness shapes the future. In Franz Fanons Black Skin, White Masks, the reader is taken to ‘a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinary sterile and arid region, where black is not a man, and mankind is digging into its own flesh to find meaning.’70 The self is fleshed out beneath the skin but it enters the world outside of itself. Myra Greene’s photographic series Character Recognition, 2006, is not firmly located within a time and place. But the photographs are haunted by a blackened history of slavery in America. Its desire to encourage a conversation about raced bodies has a contemporary echo of discontent.

© Myra Greene 2006 / Untitled, Character Recognition

During the summer Katrina hit, in 2005, Greene was reading the New York Times, where articles reported the floods, and the harrowing stories of its victims and survivors. Below the reports she noticed that people had written comments such as: ‘“this is the deluge,”’ and ‘“send those monkeys back to Africa.”’ Shocked at seeing ‘the most racist things on my beloved liberal New York Times site and no one was monitoring it and I [] was frozen for the month of August and September […] and it became this immediate moment where I realised that judgement was being placed without knowing.’71 She instantly knew that she wanted to work on a project that used the process of ambrotypes to marry ‘ideas of looking, to [] ideas of categorization, and [] ideas of race, and the body.’72 And this is how her project Character Recognition came into being. Since it’s invention in 1839, photography has been used as an anthropological tool to identify and transform humans from around the world into homogenous raced bodies. During a workshop on early photographic technologies, Greene learnt how to make collodion wet plate prints. Her first ambrotype self-portrait aroused a startling response in her: ‘Oh my god! I look like a slave!’73 Estranged from the image of herself, she became aware that her contemporary body had been photographically transposed into a historical context, specifically that of the mid 1860s. ‘Greene saw herself reflected through a long legacy of racial photographic inscription.’74 To explore the idea of classification, over a period of two and a half years, she created a collection of 70 one of a kind ambrotype photographic plates, which document, record and isolate her facial features to become fragments of the body. Each individual print is 3” by 4” and can ‘literally fit into the palm of your hand.’75 As Greene comments this creates ‘an instant intimacy between the art and the viewer.’76 The concept behind it is to explore whether we ‘judge character by just a brief recognition?’77 The ‘physical’ nature of someone appears to infer that it is tangible and concrete, and yet skin is unpredictable, it fluctuates like the varying features, body shapes, and skins of humans. The body for women has become a battleground. With this particular photographic series, Greene ‘deals with the body, specifically her own body,’78 which throughout her lifetimes work so far, she has broken down into ‘something that is [] the physical body, [an] emotional space, and the racialised body.’79 49


SUBVERTING SKINS

As Greene comments the ambrotype process ‘aligns itself with the history of photography, the history of slavery, physiognomy and phonology’80 Photography has been used as a tool for anthropology, to classify humans: recording, documenting, and categorizing race as something fixed and identifiable. At the same time photography was invented, scientists and writers were also considering ‘physiognomy and phonology and trying to figure out how to classify people by looking.’81 Even though our eyes naturally adjust to the light and dark, there is a long history of photographic printing being viewed as an inherently racist medium, which is based on ‘whiteness’. It has recently been commented upon by artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin ‘that early colour film was predicated on white skin: in 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently “racist”’82. It has been argued that Polaroid designed the vintage ID-2 camera, specifically contained the feature of a ‘boost’ button to increase the flash, enabling South Africa’s apartheid regime to photograph and police black people and control their movements. Unsettlingly, Shirley cards were used to colour reference and displayed a ‘white woman as a standard for measuring and calibrating skin tones when printing photographs.’83 She was depicted as a Caucasian woman dressed in brightly coloured clothes. Light skin tones were the standard and this was a naturalised process to perform skin-colour balancing in photographic printing. Another disturbing method for colour correction was the use of China Girl a common name for a test film with a colour of black-and-white set up chart and a woman.

50


SUBVERTING SKINS

Traditionally, ambrotype84 plates are made using a piece of clear glass that has been dipped into photosensitive chemicals, which is then placed in front of black paper and viewed by reflective light. Subversively, Greene when beginning the project decided that, ‘the images needed to come from blackness.’85 She reflected that ‘in order to see the image you need that blackness,’86 so she ‘decided to make that blackness a part of the infrastructure of the picture’87 and she achieved this by making all of the images on black glass instead, she physically made the photographic skin of each image black. ‘I think a lot about the frame, about isolation’ says Greene, ‘and how I tend to eliminate the space when thinking about the body.’88 This encourages the viewer to physically focus in on what’s happening to the body. As the light leaks into the blackness of the photographic skin, its borders blur.

51


SUBVERTING SKINS

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;eyes wide open, eyes mystified and lost, and one set of eyes denying that looking, denying that judging, denying that place in space.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; 97

52


SUBVERTING SKINS In 1879, Alphonse Bertillon invented a photographic method to identify criminals through facial characteristics. He ‘combined detailed measurement and classification of unique features with frontal and profile photographs of suspects,’89 this information was then recorded on standardised cards. Physiognomy derives from the Greek word Φυσιογνωμία, broken down into two parts φυσιο means nature and γνωμία means to interpret, which is interesting when considering Bertillon’s technique to photograph traits that were thought to charcaterise the criminal. ‘The face is the site of the body to which identity is conventionally linked.’90 Greene then used this method as her guide to create stylised mug shots of herself. She photographed herself repeatedly and ‘the mutations that you see in the body, are created by light, shadow, distance and exposure.’91 The camera has an ambivalent ability to make human phenomena visible and to simplify perceptions of character. False rationality and the artificial seduction of the image make things appear quantifiable, which Walter Benjamin referred to as the ‘optical unconsciousness.’ Greene interrogates the medium of photography and is interested in the idea that ‘the physical self being the idea of mutation,’92 is suggestive of a changing structure of genes, of bodily variations and of alteration. Photography as a medium creates a ‘skin’ or surface between the subject and the viewer. The materiality of the medium is crucial for Greene in its ability to make both the artist and viewer recognise that they’re ‘looking through a plane to a specifically constructed reality.’93 Historically, photography has been used much like a science. Able to capture an image, the presupposition is that it accurately records and truthfully depicts the ‘nature’ of things. Exploring the way historical narratives have constructed racialised bodies, Greene, challenges the supposedly honest nature of photography as a medium. Her work questions its authenticity to characterise and classify humans. Does the viewer recognise and identify her as having encountered her before? In Greene’s work her character becomes fictionalised as a performative being. She creates new meaning by playing with her restless expressions, gesture towards communication, manipulating the character of the image. Greene ‘thought of merging these two ideas of looking and classification and how photography intervenes.’94 She ‘was thinking about descriptions of black people... their full lips and their broad noses and needed to figure out a way to imagine those parts.’95 Characteristically, Greene sees herself as a responsive person and wanted to incorporate this into her work, orifices on her body such as the eyes and mouth became sites of expression and transformation. In her series of mouths she playfully sticks her tongue out, smirks, or parts her lips, which becomes suggestive of something more seductive and sexual. To paraphrase the artist’s response to this she is no longer just being looked at but recognises that she is being looked at as a black woman. It was important for Greene ‘to make only self-portraits, since [she] was thinking about judgment and description. [She] felt it only right to have those thoughts fall onto [her] body.’ As she puts it, ‘I use my body as a marker.’96 She poetically describes a set of photographs with her ‘eyes wide open, eyes mystified and lost, and one set of eyes denying that looking, denying that judging, denying that place in space.’97 Greene wants to inspire people to be mindful of looking and the implications positive or negative of categorising and making visual judgements. 53


54

Š Myra Greene 2006 / Untitled, Character Recognition


55


SUBVERTING SKINS

Observing the multiple variations and colours of skin, Angelica Dass, whose photographic series Humanæ,98 2012 – ongoing, is an attempt at building the first database to record and catalogue all possible skin tones and hues of both men and women. It is a chromatic inventory that displays frontal portraits of people, placed almost as if on a wallpaper of nude tones, suggestive of nude lipsticks, nude lingerie, nude tights, and nude skins. This conjures up the image of a nude paint colour chart. The series of portraits have a background which has been ‘dyed with the exact Pantone® tone extracted from a sample of 11x11 pixels of the [models] face.’99 Referencing the PANTONE® colour scheme100, Humanæ is a project that encourages viewers to reconsider and re-imagine usual codes of language used to reference colours and skin tones across the world. The artist, Dass, attempts to highlight ‘our subtle-continuous of our tones that make more equality than difference… our true colours, rather than the untrue Red and Yellow, Black and White. It is a kind of game for subverting our codes.’101 She plays with Bertillon’s chart and using the Internet as a platform provokes a conversation about ethnic identities, in an attempt to illustrate that we are far more similar than dissimilar, when stripped of indicators that reveal our ‘nationality, origin, economic status, age or aesthetic standards.’102 Everyone who has posed for the project volunteered via Internet sites such as Facebook or Tumblr. There is no selective process of selection based on nationality, gender, age, race, social class or religion. Here, Dass positions herself as an artist in relation to the medium of photography: ‘I understand photography as a dialogue from personal to global; like a game in which the personal and social codes are put at stake to be reinvented, a continuous flow between the photographer and the photographed, a bridge between masks and identities.’103 The power relationship between the photographer and those photographed is diluted and the viewer is able to reject or accept the premise of the project as they choose. Another artist who evokes questions about the construction of identity is Ana Álvarez-Errecalde. In her piece More Store/Tallas, 2010-2012, she combines installation, photography and video, which are housed in a boutique setting. She photographed 40 women of different body shapes and sizes, from around the world (Cameroon, Costa Rica, Russia, Iceland, the USA, Chile, Italy and many other countries), the women ranged from the age of 18 to 75. Their naked skins are hung up in the form of digitally printed bodysuits. The models are skinned, photographically stripped of their skin, so that the body suits can be conversely endowed with specific skins of varying types. The display literally and metaphorically asks viewers to step into somebody else’s skin. This project encourages the viewer to reflect on societal categories that place value on our bodies. This work challenges beauty myths and naturalised perceptions of the idealised woman, which are traditionally seen in commercial and mainstream culture. Which demonstrates a culture fixated on beauty, only skin-deep; it is an obsession with female obedience as Naomi Wolf suggests is a ‘potent political sedative in woman’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.’104 “Both artists Greene and Errecalde encourage viewers to reflect upon value systems that are socially engineered and engendered by ways of judging and classifying the body and racialised skins. Errecalde comments on arbitrary factors that type cast people by drawing upon the predetermined ‘MADE IN’ countries of origin against predetermined hierarchies of beauty that have been entrenched in the material consciousness, where women’s flesh and skins are commodified. The body suits have individual tags, which read: ´Price, Prix, Preço´ attached to them, alluding to the currency of flesh and skin in the marketplace. Errecalde stated that she ‘wanted not only to expose bodies that are normally covered up and negated because they don’t correspond to the so-called “model” woman, but also allow the viewers to form their own opinions on the body’s value both in terms of aesthetics and provenance.’105 Aesthetic evaluations are imposed upon women, though this does not make them victims, they are resistant and resilient. Women’s skins are constantly under societal and cosmetic pressures to be visibly perfect, and what they ‘naturally’ are is seemingly never good enough – there is always room for improvement and if you have the money you can buy it. ‘For women, skin is a work in progress, through which we celebrate – and denigrate – ourselves:’106 their sexuality is under suspicion and their ‘beauty’ is constantly interrogated, and in need of construction and cosmetic alteration. 56


SUBVERTING SKINS

Skin as signage has been used to characterise and determine the nature by which we judge ‘raced’ bodies but Greene’s work dismantles our expectations of traditional modes of categorisation through the medium of photography. The work of both Dass and Errecalde also renegotiate ways of seeing skin and the body, and renegotiating symbolic codes of categorization. Whilst Errecaled challenges beauty myths and begins a discussion around rethinking womanhood, all three artists explore the changing sense of self and the relationship of power between the viewer and those being viewed. What we can sometimes unthinkingly perceive as natural to us as humans – the nature of the human condition – is in fact nurtured and our perceptions learnt. To claim anything is natural can be dangerous and the renegotiation of values and belief systems that govern the way we order and perceive the world, ourselves and others is crucial to re-thinking the ‘body politic’.

57


NOTES

66 Jhally, Sut. “Introduction.” Race, The Floating signifier. Featuring Hall, Stuart. 1997. Media Education Foundation: Goldsmith’s lecture. 67

Race, The Floating signifier. Featuring Hall, Stuart. 1997. Media Education Foundation: Goldsmith’s lecture.

68

Ibid.

69

Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks. “Introduction.” 1952, English translation, 1967. p.3.

Sardar, Ziauddin. “Foreword to the 2008 Edition.” Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks, 1952. English translation, 1967. vi.

70

71

Self Portraits 2002-2004: Photographs Myra Greene. Lecture: Bucknell University. Oct 12, 2011.

72

Ibid.

73

Ibid.

74

Smith, Shawn M. “Taking Another Look at Race: Myra Greene & Carla Williams.” University of Rochester: 2009. P.4.

75

Self Portraits 2002-2004: Photographs Myra Greene. Lecture: Bucknell University. Oct 12, 2011.

76

Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

77

Ibid.

78

Ibid.

79

Ibid.

80

Self Portraits 2002-2004: Photographs Myra Greene. Lecture: Bucknell University. Oct 12, 2011

81

Ibid.

82 Smith, David. “’Racism’ of Early Colour Photography Explored in Art Exhibition.” The Guardian/Photography. N.p., 25 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/jan/25/racism-colour-photography-exhibition>. 83

Ibid.

It is interesting to note when considering ambrotype plates as photographically inscribing the racialized body that ambrotype derives from the Greek word: αθάνατος – “immortal”, and εντύπωση “impression”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Ambrotype 84

Self

85

Portraits

2002-2004:

Photographs

86

Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

87

Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

58

Myra

Greene.

Lecture:

Bucknell

University.

Oct

12,

2011.


88

Ibid.

89 “Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body: Galleries: Technologies: The Bertillon System.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/visibleproofs/galleries/technologies/ bertillon_image_5.html>.

Kellette, Heidi. Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of Our Contact Zone. Ed. Caroline Rosenthal and Dirk Vanderbeke. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: England. 2015. p.5. 90

91

Self Portraits 2002-2004: Photographs Myra Greene. Lecture: Bucknell University. Oct 12, 2011.

92

Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

93

Ibid.

94

Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

95

Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

96

Ibid.

97

Ibid.

98

Castellote, Alejandro. “Humanæ.” Humanæ. N.p., n.d. <http://humanae.tumblr.com/>.

99

Dass, Angelica. “Humanæ.” Humanæ. N.p., n.d. <http://humanae.tumblr.com/>.

“PANTONE® Guides are one of the main classification systems of colours, which are represented by an alphanumeric code, allowing to accurately recreate any of them in any media. It is a technical industrial standard often called Real Colour.” http://humanae.tumblr.com/ 100

Ibid.

101

102

Ibid.

103

Ibid.

104

Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women. New York: W. Morrow, 1991.

105 Álvarez-Errecalde, Ana. “Interview with Ana Álvarez-Errecalde.” Interview by Daniel Gasol. Artists at Hangar n.d.: n. pag. Web. <http://artists.hangar.org/en/content/interview-ana-%C3%A1lvarez-errecalde>. 106

Mifflin, Margot. “Skin.” Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo. New York: PowerHouse, 2013. p.4.

59


60

Š Saira Hunjan 2013 / Photo taken by Claudia Hahn


SKIN AS SURFACE


SKIN AS SURFACE

Skin as Surface

It would be easy to suggest that skin is inherently linked with the idea of the self and its visual coming into being, in the outside world. But the Scottish artist Jessica Harrison’s ceramic sculpture and photographic series Holding, 2009, re-imagines the body in sculpture through skin. Furniture, which usually would exist inside the interior space of a house, is reconfigured as external epidermises. The binary tradition of thinking about the inside and outside of the body as a space is physically turned inside out. ‘Carving, cutting, breaking, shaping, tracing, folding, skinning. The things [she] make[s] are about the body: the body in space, the space within the body and the space in-between the two.’107 As a sculptor Harrison explores the relationship between the external appearance of the human body to the internal, the skin no longer divides and separates the two, but becomes a canvas upon which to manifest her views of the human condition and the body as a living space. Offering an alternative way of perceiving the body and its physical dimensions. The skin is rooted on the body. We experience the physical world and objects through it and are in turn shaped by it. ‘It structures our perceptions of the world and as such is how we interpret everything.’108 Harrison is interested in ‘the mechanics of human perception, the fallibility of observation, memory, sensation, as well as the sensory complexity of the body, as these are all layers that shape our ideas of things, people, spaces, times.’109 In order to generate alternative ways to look at the body and to break away from traditional sculptural practise, which have historically given precedence to the figure above the body, Harrison discovered that ‘the key was to look neither inwards towards the traditional ‘hidden’ core, nor outwards from the notion of the subconscious, instead [she] looked orthogonally across the skin as a way to overcome the figure.’110 Thinking through the skin in sculptural practise led Harrison to move away from seeing the skin as a boundary, challenging the traditional notion of the skin as bi-directional (inside to outside or vice versa) and enabled her to ‘propose a multi-directional and pervasive model of skin as space in which body and world mingle.’111 Exploring tactility in sculpture became important for her, in an attempt to reconsider traditional modes of imagining the body and ‘to address processes of imaginative touch and proprioceptive sensation in sculptural practice.’112 Michel Serres’ book The Five Senses, written in 1985, challenged what he viewed as sterile systems of knowledge in a scientific age of ‘progress’, arguing that they were becoming dangerously divorced from the senses and bodily experience. ‘The skin is a variety of contingency: in it, through it, with it, the world and my body touch each other, the feeling and the felt, it defines their common edge.’113 Skin he argues isn’t a medium and as the internal body caresses the external world, ‘skin intervenes between several things in the world and makes them mingle.’114 Greatly influenced by this work and the idea of skin as environment, Harrison visibly amplifies the sense of touch in her series, Holding, 2009, where she explores the haptic nature of the body’s relationship to furniture; placing the haptic above the optic. She manipulates objects and our habitual perceptions of them, shifting our visual registers of expectation; folds of skin and fabric become redolent of the life of the object and the body. 63


SKIN AS SURFACE Harrison creates a series of 20 objects made out of replica skin, that take the form of miniature, handheld furniture. Imaginatively exploring the space of skin, she approached it from a sensory position where sculpture intimately relates to the body. Negating the sense of touch as opposed to sight, to go beyond the visual constraints imposed on the defined boundaries of the body, limited by perceiving the skin as a material covering. The furniture takes the form of a table, dining chair, sofa, grandfather clock, among other objects, and each one appears to be formed of human skin, possessing hair, pores, wrinkles and creases. The artist used clay impressions of the tops and palms of her hands, which are then sculpted into skin objects, before being fired and painted with skin tones. Harrison reflects that although she attempted to ‘raise questions about the path of touch beyond the body, to explore a tactile outline of the body in comparison to a visual one.’115 Ultimately, she considers the sculptures to be unsuccessful in their attempt, because although she successfully created ‘a realistic synthetic skin, the objects create a dislocation from the body of the viewer precisely because of their realistic bodily attributes.’116 It had the undesired outcome, as the visual nature of the object’s skin-surface ‘is more repellent than incorporative’ and she feels that ‘instead of exploring the potential of a tactile projection, the objects only describe a set of limits in relation to [her] own body.’117 Harrison has created an unsettling domestic interior, an all too human space. The familiarity of decorative furniture appears uncanny. The surreal nature of her objects lies in their ability to suggest human presence and yet, hauntingly the body is absent from the scene. The way we configure skin as a living space is entrenched in memory, the imagination, and proprioceptive sensation of the both haptic than the optic impressions, they interact in the space. Though the visual immediacy of Harrison’s work alongside the tactile nature of the objects appearance are in natural kinship. For Harrison skin is where things are connected and at the same time become less defined simultaneously. It is ‘a way to consider a reordering of sensory experience but without a complete rejection of the visual, with the potential to locate the view within skin, rather than on one side or the other.’118 Today, the internal workings of the female body and even the image of a woman giving birth with blood, newborn, umbilical cord and placenta are still stigmatised and taboo. As Harrison references ‘the acquisition of knowledge in the West, particularly our knowledge about the body, has traditionally been about breaking through a shell to an inner core to reveal hidden, in64


SKIN AS SURFACE

© Jessica Harrison 2009 / ‘Small Table’, Handheld

ner truths (Anzieu, 1989).’119 Harrison’s Broken, 2012 physically assaults porcelain figures of women, tearing the flesh of the objects to reveal the internal biological mechanisms usually kept hidden beneath the skin. The expected appearance of the porcelain figures is disrupted and made to emit blood and the bodily insides of living organs. The imagery becomes a violent shedding of conventions as their traditional beauty is viewed with torn skin and bloody gore. They rupture and so do the viewers expectations as their impossible interiors are exposed. ‘This particular interior is overtly female, a space still found to be laced with taboo in a way that the male interior is not. The gender bias of an interior, invisible space is one of the themes addressed in this body of work, as the Broken sculptures flaunt their specifically female interior unapologetically, for all to see.’120 The visual certainty that the viewer assumes, are made uncertain. The nature of porcelain is a material that has ‘a clear and physical tactile impression without the necessity to be touch[ed]’121 and this generates a tension alongside the image of violence the injured bodies possess, which is engineered by the artist. ‘What should be hard is soft, what should be brittle is flexible, what should be fragile is fleshy, what should be precious is broken.’122 The certainty of the materials ‘pure’ quality and the ‘beautiful’ ideals of these little women are fragmented and ultimately shattered. Unbroken porcelain figurines of women continue to exist in the houses of many, displayed in pride of place on their mantelpieces and in cabinets. Harrison’s remolding of these ready-made, mass-produced ceramics, fashion these miniature women into Broken counterparts – they’re disfigured. They ‘Counter [] the idealistic and unrealistic way of living that the unbroken figurines illustrate, the Broken figurines describe a turning inside out of middle-class Englishness; a self-destructive ornamentation where object becomes organ, private becomes public, inside becomes outside.’123 Tattoos and body modification is a growing phenomenon amongst women and men. In another series of ready-made ceramics called Printed Lady, 2014, Harrison paints dainty porcelain figures with tattoos. Considering the skin as a space, she considered the narrative of the tattoo, navigating them across the skin, in ‘a sort of unthreading of line and ink from the body.’124 The Painted Ladies, 2014, have alternative tattooed skins painted onto them. This was intended to create ‘opposing skins [in] reaction to an over-definition of things either beautiful or grotesque […] the skin is used to flesh out ideas, or indeed an ideal – the tattoo as an imagined line, a picture of something we would like to be.’123 65


Š Saira Hunjan 2012 / Tattoo


SKIN AS SURFACE

©Saira Hunjan 2013 / I Heart You

Since the beginning of the 5,000 year-old tradition of tattooing, now, even Barbie has tattoos. A woman who works directly on the skin is tattoo artist Siara Hujan, more famously known as ‘the girl with the golden needle’ she gestures and leaves permanent marks on the skin of others, using ink to decorate the body with ornate patterns inspired by Mexican and Indian designs. As discussed earlier, skin can be viewed as a space and object, it is a skin we live in and as a living canvas it has an intimate sense of place. It is a physical dwelling much like a home. Skin is characterised by experiences, when these are tattooed onto the skin they begin to tell stories, not necessarily in a linear narrative. Tattoos can create a visible portrait on the skin, drawing a relationship to who we are, and how we want to be viewed. It can be seen to inform our sense of self. Like a built environment tattoos colour in skinscapes in artificial ink, creating a place, a site that displays character.

Marked by the world, the skin is touched by it, physical thresholds and their limits are broken down through tattoos – un-mapping the constraints of a visible self and re-envisaging it. Rethinking narratives through permanent markings sometimes meaningful or meaningless, either way the displayed marks signify identity. Hunjan explains that the reason people choose certain imagery is usually related to ‘something from their past or something they’ve got to bring [to the surface].’126 Whether a conscious or instantaneous choice, the tattoo forms a relationship between the internal workings of the person, their obsessions, desires, experience, loved ones, or 68


SKIN AS SURFACE memories etc. all of which become a symbolical external record of an experience imagined through image and text. As a transformative state, they become an extension that disrupts the appearance of once unadorned skins. The skin as a space becomes territoialised with visual ‘objects’. Skin as a canvas behaves like a tumblr site, where people create portraits of themselves through a connection and association to images tattooed and placed on the body. Images behave as visual representations that characterise the skin. Sometimes these images etched onto the body can translate into stories, which become permanently written on the body.

©Saira Hunjan 2013 / See You Next Lifetime

Both Harrison and Hunjan consider the skin surfaces as a space onto which unexpected aesthetics play out. The fusion of the internal and external reflected onto the epidermis as an environment, challenge the limits of the skin as a boundary. Both artists are in some ways also limited by the material nature of the skin as object. Tattoos goes through a process of aging in the same way the skin does ‘if you have two lines too close together it’s going to bleed out.’127 Tattoos for Hunjan are envisaged as a decorative means to create egoskins and the body creates limits as a surface. More recently, she has begun focusing on her own artistic practice outside of the body and onto paper. Harrison abandoned making replica skins. Moving away from the traditional way of perceiving the skin as a boundary she explores multi-directional ways of skin as space in which the interaction between the body and world in her sculptural practice. This creates alternative ways of imagining skin as a surface.

69


© Jessica Harrison 2009 / ‘High Back Chair’, Handheld

SKIN AS SURFACE

70


NOTES

107 Harrison, Jessica. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bloody Feminism | 45 Days of Art Stories.â&#x20AC;? Bloody Feminism | 45 Days of Art Stories. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://thenirulafamilycompany.com/day-32.html>. 108

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

109

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

110

Ibid.

111

Ibid.

112

Ibid.

113 Serres, Michel. The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies (I). Trans. Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. London: Continuum, 2008. p. 80. 114

Ibid.

115

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

116

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

117

Ibid.

118

Ibid.

119

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

120

Ibid.

121

Ibid.

122

Ibid.

123

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

124

Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email.

125

Ibid.

126

Siara, Hunjan. Interview. 2015. In person.

127

Siara, Hunjan. Interview. 2015. In person.

71


© Jessica Harrison 2014 / ‘Mairi’s Throat’, Broken


CONCLUSION BEYOND SKIN


BEYOND SKIN

T

his catalogue explores skin as a living canvas; a medium upon which practicing women artists in Contemporary Art manifest and explore embodiment and identity. Drawing on the multiple perspectives of the artists exhibited, skin is revealed as a multi-faceted object; its significance and meaning is constantly reconfigured, engendering new ways of thinking through skin. Encountering the skin in this way radicalises the body by reconsidering traditional systems of thought that order and govern the way we perceive identity through â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;readingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; skins. This encourages new ways of seeing and thinking through and around the skin. In an attempt to re-inscribe meaning onto the body, the artists presented, challenge systems of thought that inscribe the skin with meaning and determine its value. The skin is marked, by markings of motherhood, gender, race, class, and illness. Modes of classification are brought into question by the agency of each of the artists and constructions of identity become interrogated.

75


Š Jessica Harrison 2014 / Painted Lady (12)

CONCLUSION

76


BEYOND SKIN

As we view in Helen Mcghie’s series (M)other, 2014, the mother’s skin becomes a site of uncertainty and the viewer is encouraged to rethink traditional depictions of the mother, as a safe, comforting and nurturing figure. The viewer becomes the child and their view towards the maternal figure that conventionally embodies qualities of an idealised woman, is staged as a place of disturbing fascination. Ishiuchi Miyako used skin as a medium and metaphor to challenge manmade perceptions of time, whilst unpicking the threads of history through her mother’s possessions, and rethinking fear, loss and death through skin. Scars for artists Liz Atkins and Amie Postic are brought to the surface as symbols of physical and emotional conflict but are transformed into a site of regeneration, restoration and growth. The imperfect marks on the skin are rethought in an attempt to de-stigmatise scars and reconsider narratives of trauma. Myra Greene’s series Character Recognition explores how African American women have been historically represented and are judged by photographic character profiling. She asks the viewer to reconsider visual signs and cultural registers that have inscribed the body with meaning. And Jessica Harrison reconfigures skin as objects, rethinking our expectations of feminine interiors and the female body. She reimagines skin as a space, rethinking the relationship between the subject and object. Many of these works are as varied in their approach as their subject matter but all the works seem to want to challenge preconceptions and perceptions of what is ‘natural’ by distorting and rethinking concepts of skin and its conditions. The skin as a medium and metaphor allows women to explore multiple fabrications of their identity. Skin remains a site of fascination and unease where women artists threaten traditional systems of knowledge and thought. The skin is unfolded and reimagined as a defiant medium that gives autonomy to the artist. The boundaries between self and other collapse, as discussions around the body are opened up in alternative ways. Skin takes on multiple dimensions and is reshaped by the women who interpret the world through their skins and those of others. Their identities exist beyond the limits of their skins. We live in a culture that is obsessed with looking and being looked at. There’s no need for state-governed surveillance, we watch ourselves (and we watch ourselves being watched) — we have engineered our own 1984. We upload images of our bodies and skins willingly onto social media for entertainment. We allow those sites to track our locations, we tag every friend, and knowingly we give them access to our personal details and correspondence. We’ve offered up our privacy and have made it public in a culture of supposed ‘transparency’. But is this changing the way we categorise and identify the body online and if so, how are identities being reconfigured for spaces like Facebook and Instagram? We can now alter our skins but are we altering our perceptions as we ceaselessly shapeshift and mutate the skins we live in? In a neo-liberal society we assume that we are free, free to be individual however, you can now be anybody or any-body, buy any ‘look’, any identity — capitalism commodifying categories of individuality. Online we identify and define ourselves by photographs. What is reality and illusion is being destabilised and made indefinable. The way we frame our skins; the way we view other skins and see our own skin is changing. The skins surface is adjusted as colours are changed, filters applied, images are cropped, pixelated, sharpened, smoothed, brightened… these artificial boundaries are informing the way we relate to skin as it appears and is trapped on the screen. Who has convinced us that our skins no longer matter?

77


CATALOGUE

HELEN McCHIE Cavity (M)other C-Type Photograph 61cm x 49cm 2014

HELEN McCHIE Circuit (M)other C-Type Photograph 73.5cm x 60cm 2014

Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

78


CATALOGUE

HELEN McCHIE Cling (M)other C-Type Photograph 74cm x 91.5cm 2014

HELEN McCHIE Cradle (M)other C-Type Photograph 86.5cm x 70cm 2014

Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

79


CATALOGUE

HELEN McCHIE Damp (M)other C-Type Photograph 74cm x 74cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

HELEN McCHIE Leak (M)other C-Type Photograph 74cm x 74cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

80


CATALOGUE

HELEN McCHIE She (M)other C-Type Photograph 73.5cm x 60cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

HELEN McCHIE Mouth (M)other C-Type Photograph 61cm x 49cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

81


CATALOGUE

82


CATALOGUE

LIZ ATKIN Web-skin 2010 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin

83


CATALOGUE

LIZ ATKIN Curdled Photograph of site-specific performance 2014 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin Š Liz Atkin

84


CATALOGUE

LIZ ATKIN Interface Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin

LIZ ATKIN Lavish (Lip) Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin

85


CATALOGUE

LIZ ATKIN Hide 2008 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin

86


CATALOGUE

87


CATALOGUE

88

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Dorothy’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Eleanor’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison


CATALOGUE

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Tilda’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

JESSICA HARRISON ‘ M a i r i ’s T h r o a t ’ , B r o k e n Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

89


CATALOGUE

90

JESSICA HARRISON Pa i n t e d L a d y ( 6 ) Found ceramic and enamel paint 22cm x 16cm x 14cm 2014

JESSICA HARRISON Pa i n t e d L a d y ( 1 0 ) Found ceramic and enamel paint 22cm x 17cm x 13cm 2014

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison


CATALOGUE

JESSICA HARRISON Pa i n t e d L a d y ( 1 2 ) Found ceramic and enamel paint 22cm x 15cm x 12cm 2014

JESSICA HARRISON Pa i n t e d L a d y ( 1 ) Found ceramic and enamel paint 20cm x 17cm x 16cm 2013

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

91


CATALOGUE

92


CATALOGUE

JESSICA HARRISON ‘A r m c h a i r ’ , H a n d h e l d Mixed Media 8cm x 7cm x 6cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

93


CATALOGUE

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Sofa’, Handheld Mixed Media 13.5cm x 6.5cm x 6cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

94


CATALOGUE

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Table’, Handheld Mixed Media 6cm x 8cm x 5cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Clock’, Handheld Mixed Media 4cm x 2.5cm x 18cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

95


CATALOGUE

96

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Larg e Round Table’, Handheld Mixed Media 6.5cm x 10.5cm x 10.5cm 2009

JESSICA HARRISON ‘High Back Chair’, Handheld Mixed Media 7.5cm x 6cm x 9.5cm 2009

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Small Chair’, Handheld Mixed Media 4cm x 4cm x 7.5cm 2009

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Straight Backed Chair’, Handheld Mixed Media 5.5cm x 4cm x 9cm 2009

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison


CATALOGUE

JESSICA HARRISON ‘Small Table’, Handheld Mixed Media 5.5cm x 5.5cm x 6cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

97


CATALOGUE

MYRA GREENE Untitled, Character Recognition Ambrotype on Black glass 3” x 4” 2006 Image courtesy of Myra Greene © Myra Greene

MYRA GREENE Untitled, Character Recognition Ambrotype on Black glass 3” x 4” 2006 Image courtesy of Myra Greene © Myra Greene

98


MYRA GREENE Untitled, Character Recognition Ambrotype on Black glass 3” x 4” 2006 Image courtesy of Myra Greene © Myra Greene

99


CATALOGUE

AMIE POTSIC S-Cur ve, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

AMIE POTSIC Fer nando 1, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 39” x 39” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

100


CATALOGUE AMIE POTSIC Jordan, T h i n S k i n n e d T h i c k Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

AMIE POTSIC M a r y ’s H a n d s , S e d u c e M e Silver Gelatin Print 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

101


CATALOGUE

AMIE POTSIC Stella 1, Thin Skinned Thic Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

102


CATALOGUE

AMIE POTSIC Hand and Foot, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

AMIE POTSIC E 1, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 39” x 39” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

AMIE POTSIC Knees, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

AMIE POTSIC Fer nando 2, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

AMIE POTSIC Darrin 2, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

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CATALOGUE

SIARA HUNJAN Photo taken by Claudia Hahn 2013 Image courtesy of Siara Hunjan ©Siara Hunjan

SAIRA HUNJAN I H e a r t Yo u 30cm x 30cm Pencil on paper 2013 Image courtesy of Saira Hunjan ©Saira Hunjan

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CATALOGUE

SIARA HUNJAN Tattoo 2012 Image courtesy of Siara Hunjan ©Siara Hunjan

SIARA HUNJAN S e e Yo u N e x t L i f e T i m e 30cm x 30cm 2013 Image courtesy of Siara Hunjan ©Siara Hunjan

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LIST OF ARTWORKS

Amie Potsic E 1, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 39” x 39” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001 Amie Potsic Darrin 2, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001 Jessica Harrison ‘Large Round Table’, Handheld Mixed Media 6.5cm x 10.5cm x 10.5cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Amie Potsic Thin Skinned Thick Installation Photograph Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001 Helen McGhie Circuit (M)other C-Type Photograph 73.5cm x 60cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie

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Helen McGhie Cling (M)other C-Type Photograph 74cm x 91.5cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Helen McGhie She (M)other C-Type Photograph 73.5cm x 60cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Helen McGhie Cavity (M)other C-Type Photograph 61cm x 49cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Amie Potsic S-Curve, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999 Amie Potsic Fernando 2, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001


LIST OF ARTWORKS

Amie Potsic Hand and Foot, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999 Liz Atkin Lavish (Lip) 2013 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin Amie Potsic Fernando 1, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 39” x 39” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001 Amie Potsic Jordan, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001 Myra Greene Untitled, Character Recognition Ambrotype on Black glass 3” x 4” 2006 Image courtesy of Myra Greene © Myra Greene Myra Greene Untitled, Character Recognition Ambrotype on Black glass 3” x 4” 2006 Image courtesy of Myra Greene © Myra Greene Myra Greene Untitled, Character Recognition Ambrotype on Black glass 3” x 4” 2006 Image courtesy of Myra Greene © Myra Greene

Saira Hunjan Photo taken by Claudia Hahn 2013 Image courtesy of Saira Hunjan ©Saira Hunjan Jessica Harrison ‘Small Table’, Handheld Mixed Media 5.5cm x 5.5cm x 6cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Saira Hunjan Tattoo 2012 Image courtesy of Saira Hunjan ©Saira Hunjan Saira Hunjan I Heart You 30cm x 30cm Pencil on paper 2013 Image courtesy of Saira Hunjan ©Saira Hunjan Saira Hunjan See You Next Lifetime 30cm x 30cm Pencil on paper 2013 Image courtesy of Saira Hunjan ©Saira Hunjan Jessica Harrison ‘High Back Chair’, Handheld Mixed Media 7.5cm x 6cm x 9.5cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Mairi’s Throat’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

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LIST OF ARTWORKS Jessica Harrison Painted Lady (12) Found ceramic and enamel paint 22cm x 15cm x 12cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Helen McGhie Cradle (M)other C-Type Photograph 86.5cm x 70cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Helen McGhie Damp (M)other C-Type Photograph 74cm x 74cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Helen McGhie Leak (M)other C-Type Photograph 74cm x 74cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Helen McGhie Mouth (M)other C-Type Photograph 61cm x 49cm 2014 Image courtesy of Helen McGhie ©Helen McGhie Liz Atkin Web-skin 2010 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin Liz Atkin Curdled Photograph of site-specific performance / 2014 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin Liz Atkin Interface Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin

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Liz Atkin Hide 2008 Image courtesy of Liz Atkin © Liz Atkin Jessica Harrison ‘Dorothy’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Eleanor’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Tilda’, Broken Photographic print on Archive Paper 100 (signed & numbered by the artist) Image size 20cm x 30cm; paper size 30cm x 40cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison Painted Lady (6) Found ceramic and enamel paint 22cm x 16cm x 14cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison Painted Lady (10) Found ceramic and enamel paint 22cm x 17cm x 13cm 2014 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison Painted Lady (1) Found ceramic and enamel paint 20cm x 17cm x 16cm 2013 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison


LIST OF ARTWORKS Jessica Harrison ‘Armchair’, Handheld Mixed Media 8cm x 7cm x 6cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Sofa’, Handheld Mixed Media 13.5cm x 6.5cm x 6cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Table’, Handheld Mixed Media 6cm x 8cm x 5cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Clock’, Handheld Mixed Media 4cm x 2.5cm x 18cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Small Chair’, Handheld Mixed Media 4cm x 4cm x 7.5cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison Jessica Harrison ‘Straight Backed Chair’, Handheld Mixed Media 5.5cm x 4cm x 9cm 2009 Image courtesy of Jessica Harrison © Jessica Harrison

Amie Potsic Biceps, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

Amie Potsic Mary’s Hands, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

Amie Potsic John 2, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 39” x 39” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

Amie Potsic Stella 3, Thin Skinned Thick Silver Gelatin Print 19” x 19” 2001 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 2001

Amie Potsic Knees, Seduce Me Silver Gelatin Print 40” x 40” 1999 Image courtesy of Amie Potsic ©Amie Potsic 1999

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Books Ahmed, Sara, and Jackie Stacey. Thinking through the Skin. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001. Badessi, Laurent Elie. Skin. Zurich: New York: Edition Stemmle, 2000. Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Trans. Annette Lavers. 1957; New York: Hill and Wang, 1972. Brison, Susan J. Aftermath. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002. Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York: London: Routledge, 2004. Cavanagh, Sheila L., Angela Failler, and Rachel Alpha Johnston Hurst. Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Cervero, Fernando. Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain. “Preface.” Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2012. p. xii. Connor, Steven. The Book of Skin. London: Reaktion, 2004. Creed, Barbara. “Kristeva, Femininity, Abjection.” The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1993. Edited poem of: Sexton, Anne. “Ringing The Bells.” Selected Poems of Anne Sexton. Ed. Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988. Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks. “Introduction.” 1952, English translation, 1967. Flanagan, Mary, and Austin Booth, eds. re:skin. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2006. Foster, Hal. Compulsive beauty. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press, 1993. Grabe, Herbert. Making Strange: Beauty, Sublimity, and the (post)modern ‘third Aesthetic.’ Amsterdam – New York: 2008. Groning, Karl. Decorated skin: a world survey of body art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997. Hunt, Roland. The eighth key to colour: self-analysis and clarification through colour. Romford: L.N.F. 1978. Jablonski,

Nina

G.

Skin:

a

natural

history.

Berkeley:

University

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California

Press,

2006.

Jamison, Leslie. The Empathy Exams: Essays. London: Granta, 2014. Jones, Meredith. Skintight: An Anatomy of Cosmetic Surgery. Oxford: Berg, 2008. Koestenbaum, Wayne. Humiliation. New York: Picador, 2011. Kövecses, Zoltán. Where Metaphors Come From: Reconsidering Context in Metaphor. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015. Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic, 1999. Marks, Laura U. Touch. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Print.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Mifflin, Margot. “Skin.” Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo. New York: PowerHouse, 2013. Ronen, Ruth. Aesthetics of Anxiety. Albany, NY: SUNY, 2009. Ronen, Ruth. Representing the Real. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002. Sardar, Ziauddin. “Foreword to the 2008 Edition.” Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks, 1952. English translation, 1967. Serres, Michel. The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies (I). Trans. Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. London: Continuum, 2008. Weiermair, Peter. Japanese photography: desire and void. Zurich: Edition Stemmle, 1997. Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women. New York: W. Morrow, 1991.

Essays Stallybrass, Peter. “Worn Worlds: Clothes, Mourning And The Life Of Things.” The Yale Review. 81, no.2 (1993): 35-50. Blackwell Publishing. Ltd. Kristeva, Julia. “Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection.” Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. Smith, Shawn M. “Taking Another Look at Race: Myra Greene & Carla Williams.” University of Rochester: 2009. Kellette, Heidi. “Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of Our Contact Zone.” Ed. Caroline Rosenthal and Dirk Vanderbeke. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: England. 2015.

Online Articles Ashworth, Jenn. “Painted Ladies: Why Women Get Tattoos.” The Guardian. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. <dies-why-women-get-tattoos-inked>. Barlow, Eve. ‘Chantelle Winnie: ‘I’M Proud Of My Skin’’. The Guardian 2015. Web. 1 May 2015. Chicargo, Judy. “We Women Artists Refuse to Be Written out of History.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 9 Oct. 2012. Cochrane, Kira. “Women in Art: Why Are All the ‘great’ Artists Men?” The Guardian. The Guardian, 24 May 2013. Cuss, Helena. ‘Annette Messager: Fragmented Bodies, Divided Identities’. Theculturetrip.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 1 May 2015. Elderton, Louisa. “Redressing The Balance: Women In The Art World.” The White Review. July 2013. “Guerrilla Girls: Naked Through the Ages.” Guerrilla Girls: Naked Through the Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015. Guynup, Sharon. “Scarification: Ancient Body Art Leaving New Marks.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 28 July 2004. Web.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY “Irina Nakhova - Contemporary Artists.” Irina Nakhova. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/skin_2_1.htm>. Jacobs, Emma. “Spreading Ink beyond the Skin - FT.com.” Financial Times. N.p., 11 July 2013. <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/a2c3743e-e964-11e2-bf03-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3YmaUqQkE>. Lacey, Hester. ‘Flesh And Blood: A Voyage Round My Mother’. The Independent. N.p., 1997. Web. 1 May 2015. “Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body: Galleries: Technologies: The Bertillon System.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/visibleproofs/galleries/technologies/ bertillon_image_5.html>. Stewart, Michael. “IDI Interviews Artist Jessica Harrison | IDI Blog | UK.” Creative Drum. N.p., 30 July 2014. <http://www. idesigni.co.uk/blog/idi-interviews-jessica-harrison/>.

Films The Skin I Live In. By Pedro Almodóvar. Perf. Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet. Warners España, 2011. DVD.

Online Material/ Websites Atkins, Liz. ‘Liz Atkin’. Lizatkin.com. N.p., 2015. Web. Álvarez-Errecalde, Ana. “Interview with Ana Álvarez-Errecalde.” Interview by Daniel Gasol. Artists at Hangar n.d.: n. pag. Web. <http://artists.hangar.org/en/content/interview-ana-%C3%A1lvarez-errecalde>. Bhagwandas, Anita. “Female Tattoo Artists Make Their Mark.” The Guardian. N.p., 5 Oct. 2012. Web. <http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2012/oct/05/female-tattoo-artists-make-their-mark>. Castellote, Alejandro. “Humanæ.” Humanæ. N.p., n.d. <http://humanae.tumblr.com/>. “Devotion to the Five Wounds.” The Holy Bible. John 20:27-28. Devotion to the Five Wounds. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www. fisheaters.com/5wounds.html>. Dass, Angelica. “Humanæ.” Humanæ. N.p., n.d. <http://humanae.tumblr.com/>. Greene, Myra. ‘Myra Greene Character Recognition’. Myragreene.com. N.p., 2015. Harrison, Jessica. “Bloody Feminism | 45 Days of Art Stories.” Bloody Feminism | 45 Days of Art Stories. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://thenirulafamilycompany.com/day-32.html>. Harrison, Jessica. ‘Jessica Harrison -’. Jessicaharrison.co.uk. N.p., 2015. Web. 1 May 2015. Hauserwirth.com. ‘Artists — Berlinde De Bruyckere — Images And Clips — Hauser & Wirth’. N.p., 2015. Web.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Hunjan, Saira. ‘Saira Hunjan’. Thegirlwiththegoldenneedle.tumblr.com. N.p., 2015. Web. McGhie, Helen. ‘Helen McGhie - (M)other’. Helenmcghie.com. N.p., 2015. Web. “Medium.” OED Third Edition (June, 2001). December, 2014. OED Online. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/ “Metaphor.” OED Third Edition (December, 2001). December, 2013. OED Online. Oxford University http://www.oed.com/ “Miyako Ishiuchi | Tate.” Miyako Ishiuchi | Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/display/miyako-ishiuchi>. MoMA.org,. ‘Annette Messager. My Vows (1988-91)’. N.p., 2015. Web. 1 May 2015. Page, Ariana. ‘Ariana Page Russell /Skin’. Arianapagerussell.com. N.p., 2015. Web. Postic, Amie. ‘AMIE POTSIC | Photography • Visual Art’. Amiepotsic.com. N.p., 2015. Web. Smith, David. “’Racism’ of Early Colour Photography Explored in Art Exhibition.” The Guardian/Photography. N.p., 25 Jan. 2013. Web. TateShots: Miyako Ishiuchi. Perf. Miyako Ishiuchi. 2013.

Lectures Faust, Chantal. Haptic Aesthetics: Don’t Stand So Close To Me. 29, October 2014, Kensington Lecture Theatre 1. CHS Lectures: Across RCA. Goethe, J. W. von, as quoted by Faust, Chantal. Haptic Aesthetics: Don’t Stand So Close To Me. 29, October 2014, Kensington Lecture Theatre 1. CHS Lectures: Across RCA. Greene, Ester. Self Portraits 2002-2004: Photographs. 12, October 2011, Bucknell University Lecture. Jhally, Sut. “Introduction.” Race, The Floating signifier. Featuring Hall, Stuart. 1997. Media Education Foundation: Goldsmith’s lecture. Race, The Floating signifier. Featuring Hall, Stuart. 1997. Media Education Foundation: Goldsmith’s lecture. Soutter, Lucy. The Materiality of the Digital Image. 28, October 2014, Kensington Lecture Theatre 1. CHS Lectures: Across RCA. Teichmann, Ester. Loss, Desire and the Photographic: And Interdisciplinary Artist’s Practice. 27, October 2014, Kensington Lecture Theatre 1. CHS Lectures: Across RCA. Myra Greene. Self Portraits 2002-2004: Photographs Myra Greene. Lecture: Bucknell University. Oct 12, 2011.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Interviews Atkins, Liz. Interview. 2015. In person: London, England. Harrison, Jessica. Interview. 2015. Via Email: Edinburgh, Scotland. McGhie, Helen. Interview. 2014. In person: London, England. Myra, Greene. Interview. 2015. Via Email: Chicago, U.S. Postic, Amie. Interview. 2015. Via Email: Philadelphia, U.S. Siara, Hunjan. Interview. 2015. In person: Bridge end, Wales.

Workshops Skin as Texture Workshop. The Bethlem Gallery and Museum: 28 March 2015.

Special Collections Amstelodami : J. Ravestein, 1663. De integritatis & corruptionis virginum notis (Book bound in the human skin of a young woman). Welcome Collection: Special Archives. 14 January 2015.

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115

Skin as medium & metaphor  

by holly parkhouse

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