21st Jul 2016

Art student wants to make luxury handbags from human skin

Art student wants to make luxury handbags from human skin
Leon Della Bosca

A Slovenian fashion student wants to make fashion accessories using the late Alexander McQueen’s cloned skin. Her idea may be a bit creepy, but is it really an ethical concern?

The student, Tina Gorjanc, will showcase a proposal in this year’s Central St Martins degree show, for creating handbags using the skin of the celebrated, often controversial, couturiere McQueen, who died in 2010. She’s applied for a patent for a method to grow McQueen’s skin from his DNA and hopes to convert his hide into luxury leather goods.

This is not the first time human skin has been used for the purposes of art. In 2014, Italian artist Diemut Strebe used genetic samples from one of Vincent Van Gogh’s relatives in order to grow a living replica of the famed Dutch artist’s even more famous ear.

Scientists believe that Ms Gorjanc’s idea is plausible, but doubt whether she can grow enough skin to create a full line of accessories.

Commenting on Ms Gorjanc’s proposal, The Guardian’s Jonathon Jones writes “The idea of making art with human bodies disturbs me – with its self-evident degradation of our respect for each other.” He goes on to write: “Are we entering the era of cloned celebrity art and sculptures, not to mention clothes, made with people’s skin? And if so, what are the ethics of this?”

Many of you may, or may not, be aware of The Human Canvas, Tim Steiner, who, as living art, sat on display at MONA in Tasmania for 500 hours. The Swiss-born Mr Steiner volunteered to be tattooed and displayed as living art and has since ‘sold’ his back to a German art collector, so that when Tim dies, his skin will be removed and his art will go on ‘living’.

Is this ethical? Maybe, maybe not. Legal? I’ll leave that to the lawyers. It does, however, propose an interesting question of ethics in itself. If someone gives permission for their bodies to be used as art, then, really, is there a problem with that?

In his time, Alexander McQueen was known as l’enfant terrible of the fashion world. Tina Gorjanc’s idea to use his cloned skin for luxury leather goods would probably please him no end. If McQueen’s family gives permission for this somewhat macabre artwork, then it should be allowed and the question of ethics made redundant.

tina gorjancs human skin handbag

And it would be remiss of me not to venture into the ethical considerations of the billions of animals slaughtered and sometimes skinned alive in order to make bags, shoes, belts and a multitude of fashion accessories and clothes in which humans daily parade. I’m no angel when it comes to wearing leather and eating meat, but it doesn’t prevent me from questioning the ethics of doing so.

Empathy is a powerful by-product of viewing compelling art. And Ms Gorjanc’s artwork may just encourage some empathy for and awareness of the plight of the animals we skin for our own clothes. And that can’t be such a bad thing. Creepy? Probably. But at least Ms Gorjanc’s idea involves lab-grown skin. She’s not asking to murder and skin a person.

And so long as permission is granted, and no one is hurt, who’s to say Ms Gorjanc’s idea is unethical? Although a representative from Alexander McQueen has stated: “Contrary to some press reports the company was not approached about this project nor have we ever endorsed it."

Who knows, in 20 years’ time our bloated human population may mean human-skin handbags are seen as more ethical, because there’ll be no option, especially if there’s no land left to raise livestock for leather. Human leather could, in fact, become a new ‘ethical’ source of material for mass production.

At the end of the day, it’s refreshing to see that art still has the power to make people question their beliefs, ethics and moral concerns. There was a time before reality TV and the 24-hour media cycle when art was a powerful motivator for such thinking. Maybe this is a reminder that art is still relevant.

Read more at www.mirror.co.uk

What do you think of Ms Gorjanc’s idea? Does it raise ethical concerns? Would you wear an accessory made from human leather?

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21st Jul 2016
Thankyou, Leon. There is no difference between (poor) animals' skins and parading around
in human skins. Yet one practice is acceptable and the other is not. It's great this student has made a point. All the suffering and death of animals everywhere you look and very little concern from human animals. What is beautiful about wearing dead animals?
Plenty on Youtube re boiling dogs and other animals alive for their bodies. And poor reptiles
suffer the same fate.

21st Jul 2016
Actually, I wouldn't expect anything less than this to come out of a fourth world, oxen-pulled country such as that. Peasants!
21st Jul 2016
I like the idea of using human skin for handbags etc. Animals can't say no before they suffer being skinned alive or some other horrific end. Perhaps people could put something in their wills, at least that way something useful would be produced.
21st Jul 2016
You are joking.
21st Jul 2016
I refuse to use anything made of animal skin - and certainly would not consider human skin.
I do not even like pseudo croc. skin, snake or other animal skins.
21st Jul 2016
Plastic shoes, belt, wallet? No thanks.
21st Jul 2016
I agree, Troubadour. Same as faux fur. Fur is for fur-bearers.
22nd Jul 2016
How to sell an ordinary bag for far more than its worth - create a statement. Albeit abhorrent. I might make one out of dead garden worms. That cloned skin could have gone to a fire victim and then I would have been proud of the individuals efforts.
3rd Sep 2016
Art isn't about vision, dream and specialized expertise any longer, it's about making wry, needling and pessimistic perceptions about the world and stunning. Hire Essay Writer. Consequently the drop in art understudies who can really attract or paint.
12th May 2017
Making workmanship with human bodies irritates me – with its plainly obvious corruption of our regard for each other. Obviously, there's a long history of anatomical science toeing that scarce difference. Old science accumulations are brimming with such gothic enjoyments as protected human corridors and excoriated bodies.
Explainer Videos Cheap Some Catholic places of worship save cured body parts of holy people. Be that as it may, workmanship, since the Renaissance, has been about the love of the human.

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