When life gives you lemons, it’s said, you should make lemonade. And when life deals you a whole lot of chicken skins? Sew them into a bodysuit. That’s what the British artists Victor Ivanov and Lewis G. Burton did, unleashing the resulting, horrifying outfit on the public in a performance in London. The project, titled FLESH, also took the form of a powerfully unappetizing mock exercise video (embedded below) and a line of similarly off-putting merchandize that includes curtains, a baby pacifier, and wallpaper.
“It’s a little crass because obviously it’s a very direct approach to interpreting our environment, but nonetheless it’s a lesson I wanted to experience first-hand rather than just theorizing about it,” Ivanov told Art Map London about the process of encasing Burton in a suit of chicken skin. “When I first did it, it was really quite a horrible experience, because just the feeling of piercing the flesh—it’s wrong because you know what it is, you imagine it being alive and you doing that, so the whole activity is very awkward. But that’s interesting in and of itself because you eat this, you handle this all the time, but because you’re doing something almost domestic to it in the way you’re handling it, the relationship shifts.”
Ivanov’s poultry couture already earned him a viral hit in the spring of 2013 with the similarly morbid sculpture Chicken Skin Teddy, which is exactly what it sounds like. The response to that work spurred his interest in collaborating with Burton on a performance.
“It becomes a platform, it stimulates that whole viral activity again because the more we think about the project, it structures itself as a commodified project,” Ivanov said. “Not in a completely straightforward way that we’re using commodified animals, but because if you are thinking about what the Internet is and what viral activity is, it’s basically just a big financial transaction. Every time you log on, somewhere, someone is getting paid.”
Buy your FLESH merchandize here.
Watch the FLESH exercise video:
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