Physicians, artists and torturers have always been intensely fascinated by the stripping of skin: the first two out of curiosity about what lies beneath; the third as a method of torture. Anatomy first became a required study at art academies in the mid-16th century. This was partly for the purpose of realising anatomically correct portrayals of the human body, but it was also driven by a tendency to display erudition.
However, Berger’s motivations for stripping skin do not lie in the realms of erudition or anatomical knowledge. Rather, his fascination, which was sparked upon seeing the stripped skin of Michelangelo’s Bartholomew in the Sistine Chapel, is for the skin itself – that membrane between the personal internal body of the ‘I’ and the impersonal external world. Skin is a frontier delimiting individual identity.
By moulding silicon he can reproduce skin in an elastic and therefore manipulable form. The stripped silicone shell can be reversed - turning the inside out; transforming positive into negative - stretched out like a figure in a funhouse mirror, or applied as a covering to an entirely new volume.