I thank the journalist for reporting on my work in the British Independent ("Body Art... Literally," May 25, 2009) but would like to correct some misinformation. For example the work absolutely does not include lampshades (please see below) and two very different works have been combined into one to emphasize race. This is not what the work is about. The work presents skin history, or, to be more precise, histories in skin. In part it examines American exceptionalism and its religious origins, in part it is a critique of hate; its tribal, racial, and ethnic antecedents, and more broadly it delves into unfamiliar areas, areas where each individual viewer is left to assess the human condition, its priorities, and its collective psyche. Neither is the installation propagandistic. Rather it is heavily layered. The complex relationships between identity, dehumanization, the effects of human dominion over the planet, ancient grudges and the world of superstition, and of course war and suffering are some, but not all, of what is considered.
It is also important to note that the work is not being made "now" and that the initial considerations behind the installation, and the materials used within it, date back when the United States government held over 100,000 human remains from "indigenous Americans" without permission. It was also a time when body parts could be purchased from biological warehouses. For obvious reasons, given that conquest atrocities are part of American history, I did not want these kinds of associations attached to the work even though I see all skin as essentially human, and include my own in the work to further assert this view. more