SKIN, 144 pages, 143 images, Kehrer, Heidelberg, 2005
€ 35 / $38
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In addition to being the documentation of work with a highly eccentric art material, SKIN is a complex and thoroughly-conceived conceptual project in which Hatry plays on the fact that skin is the medium through which individual identity is most commonly received. The seven female artists in the book, all working with skin as a medium are in fact seven facets of Hatry herself. In the book, she fragments her own biography and accordingly distributes aspects of the work among seven individuals, each of whose personal experience would lend relevance to the particular relationship she bore to the work created under her name. Hatry prevailed upon nine art historians, critics, curators and thinkers (Michael Amy, Hans Gercke, Heinz-Norbert Jocks, Cornelia Koch, Veronica Mundi, Susanna Partsch, Elsbeth Sachs, Renée Vara, and Christoph Zuschlag) to participate in the project, maintaining the conceit and treating each of their subjects as unique, living, artists. Hatry created an artist portrait for each of her individual "selves" using prosthetic make-up.
The book is characterized by mis-direction and deception of many sorts and on various levels, including reference to non-existent artists, books, and passages in (real) books, misquotation, illusory footnotes, false attribution, and pseudonymy, including dissembling gender identities, while nevertheless forwarding legitimate critical theses.
The art which SKIN documents is created from 2003-2005, of a very diverse character, including sculptural objects, some of a realistic nature, some invoking comparison to African or Etruscan masks or statuary, two-dimensional abstract constructions, paintings in blood, and paintings treating art-historical subjects seen through a film of dried animal bladder or translucent skin, reminiscent of certain work by Doris Salcedo, and creating the impression of a heightened realism, a portrait actually "in the flesh." Hatry was the first artist to use untreated pigskin and other animal parts to create realistic depictions, chiefly sculptural, of the human visage, sometimes of a character suggestive of renaissance art. She has experimented with numerous preservation techniques, including the now-famous "Plastination" method of the prominent pathologist, and impressario Gunther von Hagens.