The skin as a boundary between the 'I' and the external world
The skin is the largest human organ. It also forms the boundary between our inner and outer world. The skin gives us our unique tangible identity and holds our internal physical world together. Without it, we would be a shapeless ‘mushy mass.
Throughout the centuries, artists and scientists have been fascinated by the skin as a boundary, for what lies beneath this membrane between the inner and outer world? Anatomical study of the human body made it possible to represent the inner world in the best possible way and to better understand the biological machine the body is. With Skin, I proceed in this tradition. The concept of the skin as a border or membrane gives me infinite possibilities as an artist. Skin has become an ongoing project, the first works of which were created in 2005.
The border between the 'I' and the external world
A skin defines more than a boundary between the internal body of the personal 'I' and the impersonal one of the external world. The space under our skin is unquestionably our personal space, but the space directly on the outside is in many ways public. Straight away this makes it a point of discussion where our 'I' ends and the external world begins.
In this sense, the skin forms a mental boundary, a barrier between our own bodily integrity and the social, economic and political public space outside of it.
A copy of my identity
The skin as a metaphor for the physical boundary of our individual identity has been the start of a long series of self-portraits. Using silicone casts of my skin, I had an exact copy of my own unique skin at my disposal. I could use and manipulate this skin physically. With the metaphor of the skin, I could question universal themes.
Thus, inside became outside (Pietà) and positive became negative (Imago / Self-portrait 5). I could also literally stretch my skin (Personal Space / Self-portrait 12) or apply it as a covering on an already existing 'basis'. An example of this is Torso / Self-portrait 6, where I used the Torso Belvèdere as a 'basis'.
In my versions of this Torso, I literally measure myself with the symbol of sculpture and thus with my cultural identity. For what constitutes 'the true image'? Here I refer to the important theme of the 'vera icon' in art history: how much of the 'self' is needed for a self-portrait?
Identity and personal space
Ultimately, the question is to what extent our personal space extends and how social, economic and political etiquette has been established and defined in this regard. Etiquette and conventions have a long cultural history, but their form is constantly being redefined. The collective fantasies and stories they form are constantly in motion, be it personal, political or religious. Together they shape our fictional virtual personal space, forming narratives that are many times more powerful than reality.