Tue, 19 Jul 2016 19:05:45 +0000
Here’s a sure sign of how low artistic standards have sunken.
Tina Gorjanc, a student in Central Saint Martin — a public tertiary art school in London — has produced a project, complete with patents, to make a handbag from human skin. Gorjanc used DNA extracted from the hair of the late and queer fashion designer Alexander McQueen to “grow” his skin in a laboratory using cutting-edge biotechnology.
McQueen committed suicide in 2010, at the age of 40, by hanging himself with his favorite brown belt.
According to GQ, for her M.A. graduating project, Gorjanc used Alexander McQueen’s DNA to develop a collection of jackets and bags modeled on the designer’s skin—complete with freckles, tattoos, and the ability to get sunburned. She had acquired McQueen’s DNA using samples of his hair that he famously used in the labels of his 1992 fashion collection, “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims.”
Gorjanc was successful in regenerating McQueen’s skin in sample form, but the pieces used in her show were modeled on pigskin. The collection was met with praise—Gorjanc was a runner-up in the MullenLowe Nova Awards, and people from McQueen’s camp were said to have been at the show.
Writing for The Guardian, July 19, 2016, Jonathan Jones reports that scientists who have commented on Gorjanc’s idea say it is theoretically possible – although it would be difficult to produce enough McQueen skin to make a full accessories line.
Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s ethical. Jones asks:
Should art ever be made from human skin? It used to be serial killers like Ed Gein, the real life model for Alfred Hitchcock’s Norman Bates, who made themselves skin trophies. Today, there are more legitimate ways of getting hold of human skin to make art. Instead of murdering and skinning people, you can grow an epidermis in a lab. But is the resulting art any less creepy? […]
The idea of making art with human bodies disturbs me – with its self-evident degradation of our respect for each other. […]
I suspect Tina Gorjanc knows this. Her proposal to grow McQueen’s skin and make it into leather sounds like, you know, a joke. A joke about fashion and the macabre.
Still, she really has taken out a patent. We live on the edge of science fiction. Who knows, in 10 years’ time there may be skin art everywhere. [….]
Ed Gein was also the real life model for the serial killer Buffalo Bill in the movie The Silence of the Lambs.
I hate to point this out, but “Gorjanc” is the Slovenian version of the German Jewish (Ashkenazi) name, “Berger”. I also don’t need to point out that given the stories from the Holocaust of the Nazis making soap from dead Jews, Gorjanc’s human-skin handbag project is even more distasteful.