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Her most emblematic works are her “skin rooms”, made by applying liquid latex and gauze to the surfaces of a room, then pulling it off and presenting it as a sculpture. The notion of skin had already preoccupied her in her flexible wearable sculptures activated by human bodies in the performance entitled Bodyshells.
Before making her “skin rooms”, Heidi Bucher designed “dancing sculptures”, wearable skins capable of movement. ...
Before making her “skin rooms”, Heidi Bucher designed “dancing sculptures”, wearable skins capable of movement.
Venice Beach, Los Angeles, 1972. On the sand, a strange dance is performed by four soft sculptures, which not only move but also change shape. These “figures” – reminiscent of marine creatures, miniature rockets, or giant vegetables—were called Bodyshells and were made of foam rubber coated with mother-of-pearl pigment. They were set in motion by the four members of the Bucher family: artists Heidi and Carl and their children Mayo and Indigo. This performance, filmed by Mary Kahlenberg, resulted in a poetic, disturbing video with a powerful sense of plasticity. Heidi Bucher was above all a sculptor, and her work is closely linked to the idea of the skin in its broadest sense. Bodyshells are figures-cum-sculptures set in motion by the living bodies inside them. They might be seen as oversized skins, giant clothes, or individual micro-architecture. Later on, Heidi Bucher made works using latex-covered clothes, then her famous “skin rooms”, made by applying liquid latex mixed with gauze to all the surfaces of a room in a house. The shift from site-specific intervention to sculpture was made by wrenching off the “skin”, a highly physical act that the artist regularly documented in photographs and films. These documents tend to indicate that the art object is nothing less than the accomplishment of a performative process; this also appears in the photographic series made by Jan Jedlika of a “choreographed installation” of skin rooms extracted from the Ahnenhaus (the family house) at a nearby building site being excavated in Winterthur.