Published by Distanz
Skin and Other Attires
The skin envelops the human body and protects it against the outside world, against cold, damp, and injury. In addition to this function as a protective, embracing sheath, the skin simultaneously mediates interaction between the individual and his or her environment. Complementing the skin, clothes can act as another selectively permeable barrier, a second skin that covers and conceals, but also as an adornment that communicates who we are, an expressive medium of cultural or individual identity. This symbiotic relationship between skin, attire, and environment has emerged as a major focus of interest in contemporary art. Artists increasingly integrate organic materials and creatural substances into their work. They tailor “natural clothes” out of flowers, twigs, fish, and hair, fragile creations whose impermanence also prompts reflections on man’s mortality. Just as natural materials are defined by the cycle of becoming and decay, man, being embodied, cannot escape the rhythm of life and death. Although clothes are an artificial shell around the human body, they are perceived as its quasi-natural extension. Its surface may conceal something very different from what it suggests to the beholder. The artists who contributed to this volume explore the interplay between semblance and being that humans stage on their skins and in their clothes. With an essay by Ina Fuchs.