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Whose Skin? Curating Tattooed Tableaux Vivants in Contemporary Art

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This article discusses tattoo works by contemporary artists Wim Delvoye and Santiago Sierra to raise questions about curating tattooed tableaux vivants. Showing tattoos on living persons in an exhibition context instigates an intriguing curatorial network. The relationship extends from the curator and the artist to the person carrying the artwork. Yet one cannot assume that the three parties act in agreement. Their connection may be social, art-focused or even market-driven. In a newly formed triangle of artistic and curatorial interests, the division of labour and distribution of profits have to be renegotiated.
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Keywords: Santiago Sierra; Wim Delvoye; contemporary art; curating; living display; tableau vivant; tattoos

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Art and Design Education, University of Arts and Design, Basel

Publication date: April 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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