Hedwig Brouckaert (lives in NYC and Ghent, Belgium) works with advertising and mass media imagery, referencing its distorted messages of desire and identity, but totally transforms the original narrative. She plays with the tension between the highly representational and functional starting point and the tactile, abstract result of her layering process.
’Peel’ is a series of paper collage on commercial ceramic and marble tiles, which are omnipresent as the skin of the dense network of public corridors and subway tunnels in New York City. Touching the skin of others and public surfaces was to be avoided at all costs during the pandemic, which also brought the continuous inequality of the political and cultural connotations of skin into the spotlight. From mainstream magazines, with its still over-produced images of whiteness that mask the inequalities in our society, Brouckaert cuts out models' skin and layers it over and over with glue and acrylic paint to create a bas relief on tiles. She then sands, cuts, and carves with sharp knives to reveal the deeper layers beneath. The skins peel, uncovering strange patterns and melting boundaries. Through the most intense form of individualism which capitalism propagates and idolizes, we are painfully separated from each other and are forgetting what connects us.
Brouckaert is fascinated by the idea of skin as a barrier between ourselves and the world, but also skin as the organ that gives us the capability to feel, to gather information, and ultimately to become more aware.