Thin Skin: The Fickle Nature of Bubbles, Spheres, and Inflatable Structures

  • Thin Skin, installation view, AXA Gallery, 2002.

  • Olafur Eliasson, Untitled, 1994.

  • Thin Skin, installation view, Gemeentemuseum Helmond, 2002-03.

  • Thin Skin, installation view, Boise Art Museum, 2004.

  • Thin Skin, installation view, Boise Art Museum, 2004.

  • Thin Skin, installation view, Gemeentemuseum Helmond, 2002-03.

  • Thin Skin, installation view, Gemeentemuseum Helmond, 2002-03.

  • Thin Skin, installation view, Gemeentemuseum Helmond, 2002-03.

Curated by Barbara Clausen, Carin Kuoni

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.



Barbara Clausen

Barbara Clausen is a curator and a professor for performance theory and history at the University of Québec in Montréal, Canada. She writes extensively on performance art and performative conceptual practices and has curated numerous exhibitions and performance series in Europe as well as North America including the exhibition and performance series After the Act: The (Re)Presentation of Performance Art (2005), Wieder und Wiider Performance Appropriated in Art and Dance (2006) and Push and Pull. Part I and Part II (2010/2011), a series of collaborations between MUMOK Vienna, Tanzquartier Wien and TATE Modern, London. In 2012, she curated the performance series Something to Say, Something to Do. The Politics of Authorship and History of Exhibitions followed by the first retrospective of Babette Mangolte in 2013, both at VOX, centre d’image contemporaine in Montreal. Her most recent project is the exhibition and performance series STAGE SET STAGE On Identity and Institutionalism at SBC Gallery for contemporary art in Montreal.

Carin Kuoni

Carin Kuoni is Director/Curator of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.  Under her directorship, the Vera List Center has developed into an internationally recognized public think tank and research lab on the role of the arts in fostering new modes of civic engagement. Kuoni curates a dynamic program of interdisciplinary public lectures, conferences, performances, and panel discussions focusing on themes of political urgency and broad resonance. An art historian by education and a curator and critic by practice, Kuoni was previously director of exhibitions at Independent Curators International (ICI) and director of the Swiss Institute New York. She has curated many international exhibitions, among them The Puppet Show (2008–2009, with Ingrid Schaffner), Vogue’ology (2010, with Arbert Santana Evisu and Robert Sember) and Post-Speculation (2014, with Prem Krishnamurthy). Kuoni is a founding member of the artists’ collective REPOhistory and director of SITAC XII in Mexico (2015).

Photo by Elias Oakes


touring schedule

Boise Art Museum
Boise, ID, United States
March 6, 2004 - May 16, 2004

Bedford Gallery
Walnut Creek, CA, United States
November 23, 2003 - February 15, 2004

Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University
Wichita, KS, United States
July 20, 2003 - September 21, 2003

Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago, IL, United States
April 19, 2003 - June 29, 2003

McAllen International Museum
McAllen, TX, United States
January 25, 2003 - March 20, 2003

Gemeentemuseum Helmond
Helmond, The Netherlands
October 5, 2002 - January 5, 2003

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale, AZ, United States
May 25, 2002 - September 15, 2002

AXA Gallery
New York, NY, United States
January 29, 2002 - April 13, 2002

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