Bubbles and related forms seem to be springing up everywhere lately in contemporary art. Thin Skin brings together some of the most interesting recent work involving malleable, inflatable materials. It identifies this artistic practice with a new awareness of “in-between” spaces in the era of the Internet—spaces neither real nor completely virtual—and a new understanding of our bodies as permeable sensors in constant osmotic exchange as they move through these spaces. The exhibition features a selection of humorous and seductive works in different mediums, including sculptures, photographs, installations, and video projections. Viewers will marvel at these literally and metaphorically thin-skinned works, and may even be tempted to stretch, peel, or pop some of them.
Translucent and lighter than air, the bubble serves as a metaphor for a fragile world, for breath and life, even for an alternative environment. Dorothee Golz’s transparent inflated spheres embody a version of the latter. Tom Friedman shows us a photo of himself with his lips pursed and a large, delicate bubble of saliva projecting from his mouth. The unstable nature of bubbles and inflatable structures can be experienced physically in an installation of gauze-like fabrics by Ernesto Neto, in Ann Lislegaard’s warped vision of space, and in Lee Boroson’s air-filled nylon gate to the exhibition. Several other artists, such as Olafur Eliasson, set up experiments and mock-scientific situations that play with properties of air and other gases, and the liquid skins or films containing them. Historical works by James Lee Byars, Charles and Ray Eames, Piero Manzoni, and Andy Warhol serve as the exhibition’s anchors.