The multidisciplinary exhibition "Skin" takes a predominantly historical approach, beginning with early anatomical thought in the 16th and 17th centuries when, for anatomists, the skin was simply something to be removed and discarded in order to study the internal organs. The story continues through the 18th and 19th centuries and approaches its conclusion in the 20th, by which time the skin was considered to be of much greater significance and studied as an organ in its own right.
The exhibition will incorporate early medical drawings, 19th-century paintings, anatomical models and cultural artefacts juxtaposed with sculpture, photography, and film works by artists including Helen Chadwick and Wim Delvoye.
'Skin' will be complemented by the 'Skin Lab', which features artistic responses to developments in plastic surgery, scar treatments and synthetic skin technologies, including two newly commissioned works by the artists Rhian Solomon and Gemma Anderson. Visitors are invited to participate in an interactive and sensory experience - experimenting with skin-flap models used in plastic surgery, trying on latex skin-suits or studying biological jewellery.
Javier Moscoso, Research Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and Curator of the exhibition, comments: "This exhibition focuses on the historical transformation of both the scientific understanding and cultural significance of human skin, plotting it as beliefs, facts and popular mindsets have all evolved. Taking a historical and cultural perspective, the exhibition showcases a range of startling exhibits that will provoke a variety of reactions at different levels by different types of public."
Lucy Shanahan, Wellcome Collection Curator and co-curator of 'Skin', adds: "The last decade has revealed a burgeoning interest and fascination with human skin, particularly among philosophers, writers, artists and designers. Meanwhile, regenerative medicine has seen major advances in the development of artificial skin designed to improve the structure, function and appearance of the body surface that has been damaged by disease, injury or ageing. So there couldn't be a better time to get under the surface of this subject."
Pam & Kim Courtesy of the artists Aziz and Cucher.
'Mr Green', 2008 Courtesy of Araminta de Clermont and Michael Hoppen Gallery
'Xteriors III' by Desiree Dolron, 2001-08 Desiree Dolron. Courtesy of the Michael Hoppen Gallery
Standing male écorché, Wellcome Library
The circumcision of Christ, Wellcome Library
Rubber beauty masks, Wellcome Library
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