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Heide Hatry

New York-based German artist Heide Hatry is best known for her provocative performances, sculptures and photographs in which the artist sometimes immerses her own body in animal flesh and organs.

Her subjects are autobiographical, often connecting to experiences from her early life growing up on an industrial pig farm in South Germany. Heide’s work also explores the contradiction between progressive feminism what it means to be a woman.

Heide’s description of growing up on a pig farm is a phenomenal tale in itself. She describes the noise, the smell and how her father allowed her to work in the slaughter house as a special favour. She left home at the age of 15 to study gymnastics, then later studied art history at the University of Heidelberg. She taught at a private art school for 15 years while simultaneously owning and managing a book shop in Heidelberg, and developing a successful business selling antiquarian books. Since moving to New York in 2003 Hatry has made and filmed numerous art performances and produced a series of related books. Her book Skin was published in 2005, Heads and Tales in 2009 and Not a Rose in 2012.

‘In my recent work my primary material is fresh, untreated pigskin. I discovered that I responded intensely to its feel, smell, and deeply corporal sensations. I find its appearance uniquely “human." I work with both fresh material and with preserved skin which is plastinated, a process that involves removing the fluid contents of the skin and infusing it with silicon in a vacuum environment. My goal is to produce work that makes the viewer feel something intense. I want to reveal that we are surrounded by flesh. My work with a material that looks like human skin often disturbs and evokes strong emotions. I don't have a didactic goal, I’m really more interested in producing an awareness than suggesting how that awareness should be used. My work with skin expresses the subjects that are important to me: life, pleasure, sex, pain, ageing, death, gender, power, vulnerability, and perception itself.’

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