BENEATH THE SKIN FEATURING WORK BY CRISTIN RICHARD AT OUTLET GALLERY IN BROOKLYN
Femininity gives way to shock when the true nature of Cristin Richard’s delicate dresses is revealed to an audience; a shock similar (though opposite in sequence) to what a plastic surgery patient may experience post-op upon the first view of their reflection, anxious to reveal their newfound Beauty.
The concept of Richard’s upcoming show, Beneath the Skin, at Outlet Gallery, Brooklyn, speaks unabashedly of the fear of aging along the wrinkles in each layer of reconstructed animal intestine from which the dresses are made. Her latest series of sculptures will hang on industrial chains and hooks, like raw meat, from the ceiling in the front room of the gallery. Industrially zippered garment bags from the same material, specially coated for durability, and vinyl preserve the dyed red dresses. Wearing one of Cristin’s garments the elegant, statuesque, actress and model Jacky O’Shaughnessy, age 62, will stand on a rotating pedestal in the back room, as well as perform intermittently throughout the rest of the space. The soundtrack for the exhibition, composed with Richard by Nate Czarling, is the rhythm of a heartbeat, kept in time by the methodical beeping of medical equipment, ticking like a clock.
Beneath the Skin
Opening Reception is Friday October 10th, 7-10pm.
Outlet Gallery, 253 Wilson Ave | Brooklyn, NY | 11237
Empowerment, progression, and transformation are common goals the artist shares with Outlet Gallery, explains Director Julian A. Jimarez Howard. Beneath the Skin takes on the age-old battle against women treated as specimens, objectified by the role of their sex; a fight that is not only societal but in turn is also an internal one.
Richard’s dresses, formed to replicate fine silk and tulle, play on the symbolic nature of the color red with the elegance and strength of a Russian ballet performing a war scene. The fear of aging, which may be most consuming among young dancers, has been accentuated in all of us all by adaptation; by the acceptance of plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures as cultural norms. Richard admits she is “obsessed with my own skin.”
The chosen model for the opening night of the exhibition (the dress will stand alone, like an abandoned cocoon shell throughout the remainder of the show), Jacky O’Shaughnessy, shares her disheartening stories of abrasive and youth-obsessed men as an “older” woman in a stripped-down video interview (see below). The deep blood-like crimson of the dresses and Jacky’s painted body take the viewer’s imagination to a doctor’s lab, where many women who cannot overcome these fears and societal pressures put themselves under the knife. Projected on the rotating sculpture that includes O’Shaughnessy are images depicting the science of skin’s cellular structure. The video, created by Matthew Caron in loose collaboration with Richard, offers additional visual vocabulary to the fragility of the human form.
It will be impossible for the audience not to see themselves within the works. Etched mirrors by Joseph Moore line the walls of the space forcing the viewer to reflect not only on the work but also corner them into internal reflection. The “pseudo words” etched into the glass surface wherein letters are jumbled, re-ordered to suggest more than one intended spelling, though not spelling anything in any dictionary, further challenge the audience’s introspective of the work as a whole as they relate to the ambiguity of one’s own comprehension of Self.
Cristin Richard lives and works in Detroit, Michigan, at her studio, House of Raw. Manipulating organic matter, her work blurs the lines between fine art and fashion, offering a literal interpretation of “a second skin.”
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