HART LËSHKINA discuss the subjects of skin and flesh within their work, and beyond it, during this period of social-distancing and isolation — the second in a new series inviting photographers to reflect on themes central to their practice
Visual art, photography, and directing duo Tati and Erik are best-known as HART LËSHKINA. Based between New York and LA, the pair create work that sits at the intersection of fashion, portraiture and still-life. Skin and flesh run through their oeuvre. Beyond the Clouds captures individuals on the cusp of physical and emotional change through honest portraits interlaced with abstract shots: a blue heart tracing a hairy nipple, a melting ice cube floating in itself, a course strand of hair swimming in light pink liquid.
Their monograph Out of You delves into the arduous period between childhood and adolescence — each image represents a fragment of identity in flux, enacted by an anonymous girl who symbolises a universal experience. The skin and flesh on view glow: ripe and soft beneath the lens of the camera. Below, HART LËSHKINA describe one of their fleshiest images, and their relationship to the subjects of skin and flesh in their work, and beyond.
We think of skin as a recorder of time, trauma, history. Skin can be political, metaphorical. The flesh is a shelter. The flesh is sexual and ephemeral.
We always try to present skin and flesh in a direct and real way. Without much embellishment. To establish an intimacy between the image and the viewer. The image’s construction betrays its surface — it obscures and dislodges the moment being presented.
There is no prescribed reaction to the work that we hope for. Other than that the image evokes a response and prompts the viewer to ask questions. There are our concerns and conceptual explorations that exist behind the work. Then the viewer’s own experience.
We don’t impose. Rather we make a proposition with the work. We hope that during this period of self-isolation it will offer something simultaneously familiar and distant. This tension is inherent in the work.
The experience of self-isolation has not directly affected a change in our work. However, it allows certain elements and images to be recontextualised and read differently due to the current climate.
It’s strange how so quickly any physical touch seems almost perverse now. Lately, when viewing films and images where people are in very close proximity to others, we have found it taboo and arresting at first glance. We found ourselves feeling repulsed by this reaction. We look forward to the time, in the near future, when this starts to fade away. When we are once again able to embrace others. Shoulders brushing against each other. A hug, a fuck, a kiss.
Hannah Abel-Hirsch joined British Journal of Photography in 2017, where she was Assistant Editor. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant at Magnum Photos, and a Studio Assistant for Susan Meiselas and Mary Ellen Mark in New York. Before which, she completed a BA in History of Art at University College London. Her words have also appeared on Magnum Photos, 1000 Words, and in the Royal Academy of Arts magazine.