These days, the constant crossover between art and fashion is nothing new. What is rare, however, is a designer who takes her art as seriously as VPL’s Victoria Bartlett. She spent nearly a year assembling the works that are on display starting today in the “Second Skin” exhibition at the brand’s Soho store, as well as in the accompanying book, both co-curated with Renée Vara. The latex covered limited edition book is designed by Berger & Wild.
Bartlett says the project stemmed from her long-standing interest in human anatomy and skin, a fascination that is obvious in her body-conscious designs. “We came up with the title and had the artists interpret it, either literally or metaphorically,” she explains. The collected talents come from a mix of media, ranging from David Armstrong, Philip-Lorca deCorcia, and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge to Adam McEwen, Ugo Rondinone, and Mark Borthwick. In a twist, most of the contributions come in forms that are unexpected departures for the artists. Armstrong, for example, is exhibiting some of his sculptures for the first time, while one of Borthwick’s spreads in the book features photographs of his own lengthy poem.
Bartlett’s long-running interest in art has led, over the years, to the growth of what she calls a “family unit” of artists with whom she has built strong personal connections. “There is a common thread, a common dialogue, between a lot of the artists that I worked with over the years,” she says. “That’s what was really important in unifying the story of this project.” Those familial ties run deep throughout the assembled artworks, whether they’re Jack Pierson’s “naïve drawings of phalluses” or Sarah Lucas’ “objects taken from the inner workings under the skin.” They’re personal and intimate, inviting you in and helping you understand your own insides a little bit better as well.
“Second Skin” runs through July 31 at VPL, 5 Mercer Street, New York.