The Skin I Live In

Strange seizures beset us when we see the interior of our body. The opposite is also true. The Skin I Live in presents artists who explore the notion of the body, inside and outside, not only as a physical space, but also as a mental, political and affective space. The inside is explored by means of endoscopic cameras, reproductions of organs or manifestations of a breath. The outside is explored through its reflections in photography, photocopies and mirrors.

The coexistence of the inside and outside embodies the contradiction of something unknown, yet familiar, locating the body as a site of opposites. This bifurcation is revealed by the complex and diverse meanings that are encapsulated in the works. Several have surreal undertones; they communicate the body eroticized through latent expressions of desire, an exchange of fluids or magnets that pull towards one and other. The body is also understood as a site for alchemy, transformation or thwarted intimacy.

Biographical inflections are present in some works, positing the body as a conduit amongst generations, a succession of semblances, ties and ages. Others are expressions about the body in exile, foreign, abstracted. Several works expose the body as a site of protest, entrapped, pierced, transgressed, restrained; or present the body as language, questioned, interrupted, silenced. At times, the works are extensions of the artist’s body, turning it simultaneously into subject and object. Some, meant to be touched, bare traces of the artist’s hands, now physically gone but tacitly present, speaking of absence and the fragility of being.

The use of mirrors as a conduit for self-reflection plays a significant role throughout the exhibition. It brings about the viewer’s likeness, involving them personally and physically, turning the body in question into that of the viewer. Recalling Jacques Lacan’s concept of the Mirror Stage (1936) – when a child becomes conscious of his or her self-image, a stage whose function is that of establishing a relationship between the child and its reality – the presence of mirrors in certain works endow the show with existential presentness, working as reminders of being, here and now.

Our body is the place where we feel and the means by which we act. In their depictions of the body, these artist’s mind and sentiments are revealed. As viewers, our bodies themselves are played and positioned against the objects we see. The artworks, like mirrors, facilitate ways of seeing ourselves anew.