Friday, 17 September 2010


When is a fascination for skin diseases, books bound in human skin, mummified tattoos, icky medical procedures and anatomical illustrations not puerile and voyeuristic ? Apparently when it's a 'multi-disciplinary, multi-media' exhibition for the chattering classes.

I'd been hooked by the posters of the tattoo man and knowing that the exhibition runs out in a week, I thought I should get myself down to the Wellcome Collection's 'Skin' exhibition.

Just looking at body-art alone - its aesthetics, history and anthropology  - would have done it for me, but there are plenty of other stories to tell about skin:  the development of medicine, changing concepts of beauty, ideas of race, attitudes to disability ... The exhibition hinted at some of these  - but didn't actually do any of them justice. Instead we got wax-molded anatomical figures showing disfigurements, pictures of pustules  and  wounds, and old medical teaching videos. All annotated with captions of pseud's corner pretentiousness.

As a fan of the slasher-genre and all things generally tacky and violent I'm not squeamish  or judgmental about this - let's just be honest about it: This is  the stuff of the freak-show at the end of the pier but the chattering classes  and hiptsers wouldn't feel comfortable with that - they prefer an art installation for their kicks.

Roll on the more honest pleasures of the London Tattoo Convention next week...

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