Artists are often eager to push the boundary between perceptions of the beautiful and the grotesque. From Francis Bacon to Jenny Saville, art history is full of figures whose work floats along some strange compendium beginning with the picturesque and ending with the utterly horrific. Viewers are often left with their heads atilt, pondering where the appealing drops off and the terrifying oozes out.
"Handheld" by UK-based artist Jessica Harrison is one such series. Presenting a series of sculptures that seem to have been constructed from human flesh, the project is simultaneously a collection of startling images and a strangely alluring exploration of body and space.
Armchair, 2009, Mixed Media, 8cm x 7cm x 6cm
"These sculptures represent the beginning of an exploration into this participatory nature of skin," Harrison explains in a statement, "a move away from the idea of skin as boundary between 'inside and 'outside' the body, utilizing touch as a means to explore the active relationship between skin and space."
Table, 2009, Mixed Media, 6cm x 8cm x 5cm
The works are not actually forged from human skin -- they're created from casts of the artist's hands, bent and folded into tiny pieces of furniture. Displayed in the palm of Harrison's hands, there's no denying the miniature sculptures' similarities with your own cutaneous covering. You just can't help but forge through the photographs, enamored with (and likely nauseated by) the curious concept.
Small Table, 2009, Mixed Media, 5.5cm x 5.5cm x 6cm
Scroll through a preview of "Handheld" below and check out more of Harrison's works on her website here.
Clock, 2009, Mixed Media, 4cm x 2.5cm x 18cm
High Back Chair, 2009, Mixed Media, 7.5cm x 6cm x 9.5cm
Small Chair, 2009, Mixed Media, 4cm x 4cm x 7.5cm
Sofa, 2009, Mixed Media, 13.5 cm x 6.5cm x 6cm