Rawhide is abject, touching on body dysmorphia, scar tissue, locked in syndrome, evolution, sheading skin, body horror and learning to love yourself
I developed Rawhide for Itch Collective as part of their Skinned Live art festival at Camden People’s Theater 03/06/18. Being genderqueer I’ve experienced body dysmophia in a very real way (considering surgery etc) and developed to cope with it, eventually embracing my own body.
Most people sit somewhere on the scale so can identify with body dysmorphia. Everyone can relate to their skin being so itchy they want to keep scratching away. Feeling like their fighting a losing battle with their own body. It’s important for people to realise that everyone has feelings of being uncomfortable in their own skin, so they don’t feel isolated and incapable of communicating their frustration.
Rawhide is a durational piece lasting between 3 to 5 hours but can be tailored to fit a wide variety of events. It involves me naked on a 3-meter-wide inflatable pool gradually moving, slowly covering myself in liquid latex and various materials to form an outer skin.
Once covered I move around using the whole of my body like a creature who’s still evolving and unsure of how to control itself. Interacting with the audience getting them to help me start to shed my latex skin.
After enough of the skin has come off I’ll repeat the pattern, in this way, building up the layers so that as the performance continues some areas become clear while others build up and up like scar tissue.
Getting more frantic as the piece comes to a close scratching away the latex skin till the finish where I emerge as myself, scar tissue and all, smiling.
The length of the piece takes its toll on me physically and breaks down the performance barrier so that by the end I start to emerge as myself from the performance.
RAWHIDE – start of performance – Image by Elly Clarke
RAWHIDE – mid performance – Image by Elly Clarke
RAWHIDE – post performance – Image by Elly Clarke