Lizzie Fitch / Big Skin
What Are You Wearing?
Posted by: Donald Allgeier

Photo: Aaron Igler

    Walking into Lizzie Fitch‘s installation from a sun and heat-drenched outer world, I was a bit delirious. The underground space she had transformed only increased my disorientation. The room felt like a summer vacation fantasy of Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb from Silence of the Lambs. A series of exhibits consisting of linens, skins, sand, shells, easels, and makeshift human forms met at the crossroads of Martha’s Vineyard and a morgue.

    On your way into the room, you get a peak through a window into the world you are about to enter. The snapshot could be from a family vacation except for the unattached skin adorning the scene. This is quickly followed by the video surveillance of the bed at the end of the room. The bed seems innocuous in comparison, but the camera watching it adds a sense of menace (the viewer will soon be in its lens, as well). You enter the room in front of a clothing rack that gives the impression of a staging area. A skin purse, two bags with earth images, a pair of pants with skin attached to the front, and a face in a bag set the tone for your journey into Big Skin.

   The three central pieces in the first half of the room evoke a summer setting with lawn chairs, goldfish, a sun hat, and a sandy platform. The characters are an amalgamation of target designer clothing lines, body parts, and skin. The most affecting of these scenes is the sandy platform where goldfish swim in tiny glass worlds next to drooping skin and genitalia on top of worktables arranged like a house of cards. The whole image made me think of people peeling off their skin to go for a swim.

   Throughout the installation figures are created from linen and skins. The meshing of so many body parts and accessories hammers home the idea of a human world transitioning into new levels of control over the body and consumer decor. What will you be wearing and what will you be buying to find some sense of beauty in this world? These scenes transition into the central feature of the second half of the room. A bed shrouded in curtains sits in front of a television displaying images of nature underneath a sky-like painting. The electronically watched bed area is in stark contrast to the rest of the installation. It seems somewhat sweet and peaceful. The comforting imagery is all a fake, though. The sky is a painting. The natural scenes are pixels. It is under surveillance. One is left with a disquieting sense of our removal from a traditional understanding of who we are and what comprises beauty. Fitch’s creation is well worth the visit to the lower levels of the Works. I recommend going on a hot day when the sun has stripped you of a certain amount of rational comfort. It can be taken in from 12-6 PM everyday until the 14th. After that, Big Skin will be showing 12-6 PM Wed. – Sat. until the 4th of October.