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Let SKIN sink in 

AGNS' SKIN: the seduction of surface isn't only skin deep

Shary Boyle's Live Old
  • Shary Boyle's Live Old

Walking into the newest Art Gallery of Nova Scotia exhibit, SKIN: the seduction of surface, might provoke a twinge of a blush on your inner prude. Confronted with rooms full of pieces like torso-shaped rubber forms featuring a generous amount of hair and nipples, a likeness of a nude woman rendered meticulously in beads, a large work of layered paint evoking a smattering of wounds, a tasteful LMD (little meat dress) sewn from 50 pounds of raw flank steak (Jana Sterbak's internationally acclaimed Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, which over the course of the show will dry out and cure), an upholstered wolf pack peering coolly from behind jewels and mink stoles, a video of an artist laid bare, inside and out, a Royal Doulton-esque porcelain likeness of Ganesha and more, the viewer is meant to explore and interpret the many forms of skin.

AGNS chief curator Sarah Fillmore selected works from a wide array of contemporary artists (36 pieces in total, by artists Vito Acconci, Duke and Battersby, Shary Boyle, Michel Campeau, Cora Cluett, Evergon, Eliane Excoffier, Emily Falencki, Alexandra Flood, Till Friewald, Eric Fischl, Rebecca Fisk, Doug Guildford, David R. Harper, Attila Richard Lukacs, Sarah Maloney, Mitch Mitchell, Kent Monkman, Kathleen Sellars, Marion Wagschal, Colleen Wolstenholme and Janice Wright Cheney) dealing with surface, race, costume, sexuality. The sheer variety of mediums is exciting, if a tad overwhelming to process. Sculptures, photographs, video, textiles, and paintings draw the viewer in, but those pesky museum rules foil your desires to fondle. The AGNS has thoughtfully provided for your tactile urges, creating a "touch room" to accompany the event. While you won't be groping your fellow museum goers, you will get a chance to experience some of the exhibit through your own skin.

At times nostalgic and titillating, delicate and hulking, melancholy and joyful, the pieces create an altogether envelope-pushing exhibit that’s well worth you hauling your own bag of bones down to the gallery to experience.

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