Special Issue Skin Matters

Body & Society 24 (1-2) March-June 2018

Special Issue: Skin Matters: Thinking Through the Body’s Surfaces

Edited by Marc Lafrance



Introduction: Skin Studies: Past, Present and Future
Marc Lafrance

Teen Self-Cutting: Sacrificing a Part to Save the Whole
David Le Breton

Skin Work: Understanding the Embodied Experience of Acne
Marc Lafrance and Scott Carey

‘A Petty Form of Suffering’: A Brief Cultural Study of Itching
Naomi Segal

Making Skin Visible: How Consumer Culture Imagery Commodifies Identity
Janet L Borgerson and Jonathan E Schroeder

Skin Portraiture in the Age of Bio Art: Bodily Boundaries, Technology and Difference in Contemporary Visual Culture
Heidi Kellett


Notes & Commentary

Notes on Jean-Luc Nancy’s Being Nude: The Skin of Images
Christina Howells

Collapsing the Surfaces of Skin and Photograph in Cosmetic Minimally-Invasive Procedures
Rachel Hurst

Skin and Scars: Probing the Visual Culture of Addiction
Julia Skelley



Interview with Cynthia Hammond: Drawings for a Thicker Skin
Cynthia Hammond and Marc Lafrance



The Skinscape: Reflections on the Dermalogical Turn
David Howes


About the Cover Art 

The issue’s cover art consists of a photo of Austrian artist Sonja Bäumel’s creative project (In)visible Membrane. For this project, Bäumel modified and covered an ordinary store window mannequin with a kind of wool that was likely to react to the skin’s bacteria. The mannequin’s body was completely covered except for its belly, where a Petri dish was used to display the skin’s bacterial reaction to the wool. By using a light colour of wool, Bäumel was able to watch the bacteria as they multiplied before her. What fascinates Bäumel most is the microbial layer, the second microbial skin which can be found on our body’s surface. It is an in-between layer, full of life, which serves as a membrane for exchange. While it is not visible to the naked eye, this layer is a site of entanglement and serves as an imperceptible interface between the body and its environment. Through her artistic exploration of this (in)visible membrane, Bäumel confronts us with the micro world of the human body, which is just a tiny part of life’s microbial interactions.