Skin on Skin is a series of objects created from repetitious labor. I used molds from patches of my skin, orange skins, and molded shells of strawberry skins as tactile references. Each piece aims to evoke a visceral emotion to ask questions of what it means to feel, live, and witness in our specific identities that are prescribed based on the melanin of our skin suits.

 

Skin on Skin highlights the eroticism of fully being comfortable within one’s skin, to feel a level of peace and power in embracing the body we are born into, starting from the surface. It welcomes light to be absorbed and translated through, both physically in the piece and metaphorically in existence. In the words of Audre Lorde, from her essay Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power (1978), “The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual place, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling”. The term was co-opted by a patriarchal desire to control and oppress female bodies into generational shame. Erotic, as is most represented today through the pornography industry continues to objectify bodies and teach false expectations of desire.

 

Skin on Skin : Peeled and Mended recognizes the expected labor of Brown and Black bodies to be working to the bone simply to survive in our capitalist racist society that values material goods over the well-being of the citizens it supposedly serves. The bodies get weary and degrade at exponential rates, without the privilege of having the time to fully care for themselves. They’re not given the rightful ability to access their physical, mental nor spiritual power that resides in all of us. As bell hooks has said, an “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy does not afford us lives of optimal wellbeing, (nor does it) afford us to die with optimal wellbeing”. There are always others to take care of, others to sacrifice for while living in these skins. Imagine consistently being pulled apart as you’re trying to stitch yourself together.

 

We are purely flesh vessels in skin suits filled to the brim with contradictions of what wellness means. It’s high time we acknowledge the traumas of the past and the limitations of our contemporary constructed society in order to actively practice anti-racism, anti-misogyny, and anti-classism to break the chain of hierarchy for all of our sakes.

 

Skin on Skin

Silicone, plexiglass

64” x 18” x .75”

2019

 

Skin on Skin : Peeled and Mended

Orange peels, thread, porcelain, metal

27” x 18” x 1”

2017 – 2018

 

Skin on Skin : Tender Whiteness

Silicone, thread, metal, found object

18” x 26” x 1”

2017

© 2021 by Xia Zhang / All rights reserved