Skin Sewing Portraits
08:14 AM
David-Cata-Overexposed-Emotion.pngThe age-old art of skin sewing is explored in Spanish artist David Cata's performative work "A flor de piel (Overexposed Emotions)," in which David uses needle and thread to create portraits of people stitched into his body. You can see a video of the process here.

In a profile on Brooklyn Based, David discusses his work and the source of his inspiration, his mother:

Since I was small I have seen my mother sewing orders for people, so this might [have] influenced me in some way. [...] When I started investigating about the act of sewing in relation with my body, I realized that with this a physical link was created in which an external factor became a part of my body. By sewing the images of my loved ones, this action turned [into] a symbolic act on how these people leave their mark on us.
The article describes more of his technique and has links to other works in which David uses his body as a canvas.
When I read his interview, I immediately thought of a post we did a while back: "Colin Dale's skin sewing," (a photo and video of which is below). The wonderful Colin Dale of Skin & Bone in Copenhagen was inspired by the practices of "skin seamstresses," such as the St. Lawrence Island women, as described in Dr. Lars Krutak's article called Tattoos of the Hunter-Gatherers of the Arctic. A bit from that article deserves a re-post:

"As a general rule, expert tattoo artists were respected elderly women. Their extensive training as skin seamstresses (parkas, pants, boots, hide boat covers, etc.) facilitated the need for precision when 'stitching the human skin' with tattoos. Tattoo designs were usually made freehand but in some instances a rough outline was first sketched upon the area of application."
We saw Colin's skin sewing first hand at the Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Fest in 2010. In the video below, Colin is being interview by Bizarre Magazine and we got to capture some of his discussion on the history behind the practice (the video starts with Colin making fun of my NY accent).

I find it fascinating when ancient practices are revived and re-explored today, and both Colin and David's works are worth a look.

skin stitching colin dale.jpgSkin stitching by Colin Dale. Photo by Claire Artemyz.

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