MY SKIN
Text by Manuel Ströhlin about the project MY SKIN, 2022

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On a palimpsest, an original handwriting has been overwritten many times by other hands and has become almost unrecognizable under these layers. Similar to a palimpsest, an object in MY SKIN, which Eva Schmeckenbecher has glued together from countless manually peeled off wafer-thin photo skins, is released during the defined period of the exhibition for manifold de- and new formations by the visitors. A second skin made of close-ups of her first, like the latter fragile and vulnerable, detached from the body a thing usable for many things.


The stages of change were documented at intervals and the photos lined up chronologically on the wall. The fact that this information was available to every visitor to the exhibition is an essential component of the work: it thereby contains the implicit offer to likewise become a physical actor from the viewer. The continued possibility of remaining at a distance from the viewer is thus transformed from a matter of course in a museum to an alternative choice. These alternative choices, successive and materially subsequent throughout the exhibition, to relate in one way or another to the object placed there by the artist, allows the visitor, however, to become an active participant in a process, an interactor and co-producer of the work. The object is not the work. The time of the exhibition is also the time in which the work is created. The artist's personal signature is irretrievably overwritten. Her SKIN, like the skin of an old parchment, has become the carrier material of other handwritings. There is no going back to the original object. Even its "repair", which concludes the exhibition, inescapably stores the process it ends. And it shows that.


The title of this work is not simply SKIN. It is MY SKIN. With this, Eva Schmeckenbecher once again makes it clear to everyone what he sees there. Who he sees there. In no other work has the artist let the viewer come so close to her. The fact that in artistic work a person always turns his or her inner self to the outside, wearing his or her skin to the market, becomes unmistakable here and thus thematic. Whoever relates to the work also relates indirectly to the person who expresses himself in it and, as it were, divests himself. The more the work exposes itself to its counterpart, the more it becomes a pictorial representative of the artist.


At the same time, MY SKIN opens up the possibility of physical appropriation, in which the title is also offered to the recipient for temporary self-expression. By wrapping himself in it, slipping it over or violating it, he says: MY SKIN. And for this moment it is, in the medium of art. This does not require any knowledge of the artist's person, her thoughts and motives, or any aspects of her life. All of this disappears in the objectivity of the work – as the object-creation of a process with a multitude of acting subjects. Communication between artist and recipient takes place solely through the work (as an activating object) or in the work (as an uncontrollable process). 


The "instructions for use" of the installation chosen by Eva Schmeckenbecher reflect, as a draft of an experimental set-up, the thwarting of the all-authorship of the one autonomous, self-expressive creative subject that takes place in it. MY SKIN – paradoxically, it is precisely this work, in which the artist's self-disclosure in the close-up photographic image stands before the eye in such a picture-filling way, that at the same time also liberates the work most thoroughly from being an expression of the artist's personality. The authenticity of the artist recedes – almost – completely behind the autonomy of the interactive work, in which "artist" and "recipient" only describe the different roles within a process of the interaction of many participants who remain unknown to each other.

Fig.: MY SKIN, 2022, detail