Building on our shared sense of “otherness”, we have worked together on three projects before, including Aestheticisation. Martin’s body and surface are familiar territory. So this was less about the exploration of the terrain of the skin, and more about how his body and skin signify some aspects of who he is, both physically and spiritually. It’s about his individuation. Continues below gallery…
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The purpose was to capture, from his body and with clinical accuracy, all the detail on his skin – as the ultimate visual scrutiny.
The method of unwrapping his skin, using the traditional cruciform cut, reflected his religious beliefs, and his interest in medieval and early renaissance art.
The capture of his skin, printed onto habotai silk – chosen because it allows the inks to penetrate, enabling the reverse side to have a near identical image – echoes the semi-transparent nature of skin, of being able to see the inside from the outside.
As his cerebral palsy changed the brain’s control of movement and posture, thus affecting the skeletal development, the structure of his body has always been an issue. The underlying structure of his surface in the form of a Topology Map has been embodied and suspended to hang just behind the silk skin. The main scars incurred during his extensive periods of corrective surgery were opened on both the skin and the underlying structure. The silk has a natural “body” and the unprinted opening suggest new skin growth, with all that this signifies.
The overall composition shows Martin looking slightly heaven-ward, with a gentle dreamy but content look. The hands tend towards the same direction, reaching out, and perhaps hint at supplication.
The T-frame may imply a cross, but the intention is that it suggests a military or religious standard/banner as would be carried at the front of a parade, and then installed inside a cathedral. This would concur with some of the ways Martin sees himself (as the Spartan king Agesilaos II and St. Vitalis of Savigny). Thus the method of mounting the frame, leaning forward slightly, and off the floor, is to suggest a mobile device.
The idea that a disabled gay man could be the “Standard” rails against the normalcy of the military, church and wider society.
Martin is put up for display, in clear detail for the viewer to inspect, without coquettishness. The choice of materials enable a tactile involvement – viewers instinctively touch the silk with sensitivity, and also the topology map behind.
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