RAW SKIN challenges the dualistic view that the body is merely a seat for the mind, a shell which, with willpower and discipline, can be moulded into a perfect shape, something that we have influence over.This idea denies the reality of our living bodies, our corporeality. The exhibition RAW SKIN aims to research what happens when internal emotions start bleeding into the body, changing, morphing, transforming and exploding it, causing it to clash with the external world around it.
Bringing together the work of five contemporary artists RAW SKIN investigates the body in visual arts, but rather than approaching as an observer, viewing it as an object from the outside, the show aims to look at the body as a vehicle for expression of an internal emotional world. The artists, each in their own way, rethink the relationship between depth and surface, between inside and outside, between self and other and between mind and body. With an emphasis on bodily transformation and physical distortion and with confrontational works that encourage a visceral response as well as an intellectual one this exhibition aims to question traditional conceptions of corporeality and our understanding of the body.
The tactile sculptures of Eliza Bennett carry with them the suggestion that physical appearance and inner values are often in direct conflict. She represents the body as an at times ridiculous collection of ornamental parts, while simultaneously acknowledging the wealth of feelings inside. Her work addresses the challenge of communication, both how our mind communicates via the body and how our body language communicates to world around us.
Antony Crossfield’s photographic series Foreign Body explores the relationship between the self and the body, challenging assumptions about the boundaries of the body and the distinctiveness of individual selves. He draws inspiration from art history and classical mythology, like in the Invention of Drawing which is based on the ancient Roman myth, where he explores the overlapping of identities that can occur when one tries to represent another and how ultimately the attempt to adequately pin-down the self remains elusive.
Chiho Iwase‘s sculptures articulate her personal discomfort, which appears whenever she realises instability within her identity, and portray her inner monstrous, but simultaneously melancholic, character. Her endearing sculptures deal with the conflict between maturity and childishness and portray difficult emotions in a humorous manner. This dichotomy produces peculiar creatures, such as the cute looking sculpture Teddy Bear which at once recalls feelings of comfort and grotesqueness.
Karin Janssen’s drawings show the unpolished sides of the individual, the conquests and the downfalls of everyday life. She investigate how the personal clashes with the external world, when the confused mind alters the appearance of the physical body, ensuring private emotions become physically visible to the outside, showing the grotesque rawness of being.
Edith Meijering’s seemingly accessible paintings lure the viewer in with bright, fruity colours, and soft brush strokes, but her works embrace the dark side of mankind’s psychological condition. She combines this with ideas of cultural acceptance, showing us a mirror that brings up questions of power and powerlessness, submission and dominance.
Refusing to take the boundaries of the body for granted the artists in RAW SKIN encourage a consideration of the body which disregards notions of classical beauty, instead exploring the reality of the emotional, unpolished and sometimes abject body. All the works come across to the observer directly and viscerally, revealing an unnerving, inspiring, physical energy.
About Karin Janssen Project Space
Karin Janssen Project Space is an independent exhibition space, run and programmed by Dutch artist Karin Janssen. After various projects in South America, including an Artist in Residency in São Paulo, Brazil and living in Amsterdam, where she set up NIKA Art Projects, Janssen moved to London and set up the project space in order to provide a platform for emerging and more established artists. Karin Janssen Project Space is dedicated to experiment, with a focus on, but not limited to, drawing.
Installation shots: click to enlarge