- Art Concept
Artist’s Concept Note
The JMEWS 11:2 cover image shows a progress shot for the painting Thorax. There’s something very eerie and intriguing about working with skin. I actually got it shipped to me frozen from Texas. Opening the box is always a surprise, because each hide is different and each one acts as a historical fact sheet of where the animal has been and what significant encounters have left marks on its skin. Some of them are also branded with numbers, which introduces a whole box of inquiries. There’s a lot of preparatory work involved after I receive the skin. I first soak it thoroughly in water. Then it is stretched, dyed, and left to dry. It’s an interesting process, as the skin changes when it dries. It contracts, gets thinner, and changes color, and the level at which it does this depends on the area of the skin. For example, the stomach contracts more, because it’s more flexible. It makes me think of a photographer in a darkroom developing an image that magically appears after it has been soaked in chemicals. Of course, the sense of violence the skin transmits creates an array of hidden narratives that precedes it: The skin is now marked, reduced to a number, static and confined to these very narrow parameters within a rectangular frame. Who did this skin belong to, where has it been, and why is it inanimate now?
I found Kahraman’s “skin” progress shot conceptually evocative in the process of working with JMEWS article manuscripts for issue 11:2, which were not intended to be part of a thematic issue. For example, could we consider veiling sartorial practices in Saba Abbas’s article as a kind of (chosen) “skin” (as Siamak Movahedi and Gohar Homayounpour  argue for how the chador in Tehran is experienced by some women in psychoanalysis)? In the articles on autobiographies in this issue, I wondered about skin as the package of the embodied relational self, discussed in different ways by Ariel M. Sheetrit and Noha F. Abdelmotagally. Skin is also a surface of interiority and a seemingly whole selfhood, discussed most deeply in this issue by Wisam Khalid Abdul-Jabbar and Abdelmotagally. Kahraman’s concept note opens us to many other readings. [End Page 233]