Skin – organ, boundary, shield, medium, metaphor. This permeable surface stands as a barrier to the “outer” world, an observable texture of our public persona, and at the same time a safeguard for our perceptual inner self that mediates and constructs our environment. Carved by the space and time, the skin is a (living) tissue, shaped by the chisel of time inscribing on it the contours of an individual’s autobiography. It is carnal, intimate, personal, always aware. It belongs to the senses and at the same time it is alienated, libidinous, even uncanny – it belongs to us, others… everyone – but at the same time, to no one at all. Skin is a part of a wider social tissue, framed by the gaze of others, seemingly animated by its own spirit. It is a membrane of the world and every individual – it equally radiates and inscribes identity.
The exhibition Skin unveils different photographic practices, touching the topic of skin, be it gently or roughly, from its superficial mindfulness, its microscopic structures, to its social embodiment – in the economy of the gaze, it oscillates between the desired and demanded, exposing physicality, the relations between the real and the created, between immersion and deconstruction. As does photography.
Ewa Doroszenko: Radical Beauty, 2021
The boundaries between the physical and the digital are blurred. In online reality, the desire for beauty is just as strong as in “real” life. Presenting an attractive version of ourselves becomes our daily goal, in achieving which we are ready to use all possible, even radical digital tricks. Thanks to advanced online tools we can freely model our face, correct our jawline, reduce our eyebrows, edit the shape of our nose, enlarge our eyes, raise our cheekbones, or transform specific areas of our facial image. During the development of the project, I wondered whether the digital game of manipulating one’s own image could be pleasant and innocent. Perhaps digitally edited pictures can serve as aspirational fantasies, and have a positive impact even as the product of joyful entertainment. Thanks to contemporary media, we as women can finally reclaim our image. By experimenting, having fun, and making mistakes, we can create a new aesthetic that opens up the possibility of replacing the images of women that have functioned so far. An aesthetic that in time will overwrite the female images that existed in a patriarchal culture.
Görkem Ergün: Phase:Repair, 2021
The underlying question: How do man and his nature change? In response, my purpose is to reconfigure the human body, its limbs and organs as a focal point using lens-based media. In the process I investigate the limits of various materials, transforming and coalescing them, making use of technological developments, particularly in the field of biology. My approach to this project was an experiment where the process itself was the determinant. I based my work on the assumption that the physical characteristics of human beings that render them human could be the starting point of the response to my initial question, continuing with the hybridism resulting from their transformation, or in my opinion, their reparation, with the redesign and synthesis of materials and body parts. As always, the termination of the process was made possible by use of photography and video: they facilitate the building of a mutual language, while concurrently they can be misleading regarding time, space and scale, producing only a vague and possibly deceptive meaning, bringing to the forefront a feeling of remaining ‘in-between’.
Karina-Sirkku Kurz: Supernature, 2015–2019
The photographic work in SUPERNATURE centres on the concept of the body as a malleable, sculptural entity. In this manner, aesthetic plastic surgery serves as an important context—a highly invasive practice, which revolves around designing and restructuring one’s physical appearance according to specific visual ideals. How does reshaping the appearance of the body affect one’s self-image? Additionally, how are these corporal interventions – that indelibly alter internal tissue, membrane, and flesh – experienced? In her approach the artist elicits concepts from the book Our Strange Body (2014) by Dutch philosopher Jenny Slatman. At the intersection of medicine and humanities Slatman argues that “… what we call our own body entails a strange dimension. Precisely because of this element of strangeness in our own body, we are capable of incorporating strange-ness and adjusting to radical physical changes.”
Anne Noble: Touch Memory, 1999
This suite of images invites recall of memories triggered by touch – but also by scent and by scenario. The title riffs of the name of a digital identification device called a touch memory – a process by which a memory is created and accessed when an electronic touch probe comes into contact with a memory button. Likewise human contact through touch can be both physically and metaphorically electric especially when combined with scent. Touch Memory points to the thrill and significance of touch.
Goran Bertok: Hunger (Lakota), 2017–2019
The Hunger series examines the body emaciated through an eating disorder, anorexia. The scenes reminiscent of World War II concentration camps, or of images of death showing starvation somewhere in the Third World, are all the more disturbing because they unfold before our very eyes, in a society of plenty, largely featuring young people. Can this seemingly voluntary refusal of food leading to extreme debility and even death serve as an indicator of covert violence, including the violence that society inflicts on an individual?
Špela Šivic: Brugnon, 2021
Most of the photographs comprising the young artist Špela Šivic’s Brugnon series were taken during last year’s lockdown, when she was forced to retreat one way or another into the intimate world of her loved ones. Thus emerged a book of sensual and intimate photographs of young women who are close to the photographer and posed for her during the quarantine. Featuring an intimate world co-inhabited by the portrayed women and the photographer, the sense of intimacy that the nude invariably entails is heightened even further here. Images of nectarines, invariably serving as an evocation of sensuality and eroticism, are constantly surfacing in various contexts throughout the photographs. Špela Šivic’s project, marked by minimalist design and dreamy aesthetics, examines the importance of personal space. Furthermore, in juxtaposing fruits and naked bodies, the series explores the importance of eroticism in visual art and questions traditional representations of female nude. The Brugnon series was featured in an eponymous book self-published by the artist in 2021.
Production: Cankarjev dom, Cultural and Congress Centre Ljubljana, and Membrana Institute
Exhibiting artists: Anne Noble, Ewa Doroszenko, Goran Bertok, Gorkem Ergun, Karina-Sirkku Kurz, Špela Šivic
Concept: Membrana Institute (Jan Babnik, Kristina Ferk and Nataša Ilec Kralj)
Curators and layout: Kristina Ferk and Nataša Ilec Kralj
Cankarjev dom Exhibitions Programme Curator: Katarina Hergouth
19 January – 1 March 2022, Cankarjev dom Foyer I
Opening on January 19th 2022, at 19:00!
SKIN – INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION • production: Cankarjev dom, Culture and Congress Centre Ljubljana and Membrana Institute • exhibiting artists: Goran Bertok, Ewa Doroszenko, Görkem Ergün, Karina-Sirkku Kurz, Anne Noble, and Špela Šivic • exhibition concept: Membrana Institute (Jan Babnik, Kristina Ferk and Nataša Ilec Kralj) • curators and layout: Kristina Ferk and Nataša Ilec Kralj • 20 January – 1 March 2022, Cankarjev dom, Foyer I • Cankarjev dom Exhibitions Programme Curator : Katarina Hergouth • organisation: Damjan Gorenjc • graphic design: Primož Pislak, LUKS studio • texts: Kristina Ferk and Nataša Ilec Kralj • translation: Anina Oblak • public relations: Zvezdana Lazar Bursać • technical realisation: Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, Eksplicit d. o. o., Okviri V d.o.o., and ARTIKO d.o.o. • Cankarjev dom’s programme is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia. The exhibition was co-financed by the City of Ljubljana (Mestna občina Ljubljana).