Slow Down Skin Shed (1994)
in ‘British Art Special’, The Face, no.68, May 1994, pp.56–72
The Face commissioned Adam Chodzko to create two ‘project pages’ for a feature on British Art.
In Slow Down Skin Shed Adam Chodzko explored, through a form of speculative fiction, the fantasies of fluidity, change and transformation found within consumer culture’s mediation of fashion. Wanting to undermine this illusion of inexorable evolution by bringing it into relation with realities of the static, inert and conservative Chodzko requested that the photographer of a fashion shoot from the previous month’s issue of The Face create one extra and specific photograph with the models. Still wearing their Vivienne Westwood clothing, but now performing a bored and irritated look, the models aim a confrontational gaze directly towards the camera lens (and viewer). This image was then published, as part of Chodzko’s project pages, in the next (May) issue of The Face, as though time (or at least fashion) had stopped. The clothes remained the same as they did the month before ( a sacrilegious act for a fashion magazine) as if the models had been stuck in this limbo state between the two issues. However, their portraits had developed (a ‘growth’) through being modified with collaged circular fragments of a fetish magazine, devoted to a specific form of clothing and its associated sensual and psychological experiences, Rubberist.
The caption reads;
Page 37, FACE 67, regenerated by mutation with backgrounds from “mudlarking” sections of Rubberist magazine.
In Secretingspace, Chodzko’s second page for The Face, he appropriated (with permission) a portrait image from a ‘mudlarking’ feature in Rubberist, (showing a person wearing a gasmask, hood, rubber mac, gloves and wader boots, sitting in a muddy ditch at night).
The caption reads;
Background chewed with best sections of sky from FACE 67, then swallowed and regurgitated. Shot on location on page 11, Rubberist 13.
Both Slow Down Skin Shed and Secretingspace are concerned with shifting perception through slowing down time, sustaining attention, using a complex series of ‘folds’ between different forms of subcultural groups. One mediating consumerism for an expensive designer youth fashion and the other a more obscure community also concerned with skin coverings that would be perceived by outsiders as deviant or perverse. Yet, in a different reality the latter might be considered normal and the peculiar belief systems of the former be deemed strange. Between the two communities there’s the continuation of mud (a form of abject) between the two images both differently situating it as desirable. An earth that gives pleasure externally, aesthetically or internally, experienced within a form of play. There’s an activity with the image which is partly indexical and reflexive; the picture considered a space, but also a thing, a page, an object, that can be brought inside the body. There’s a reference to a work by John Latham, Still and Chew: Art and Culture 1966–1967, which involved, as the critique of its orthodoxy, the ingesting of Clement Greenberg’s book Art and Culture. Both Slow Down Skin Shed and Secretingspace share a preoccupation with overlooking the foreground and engaging with the peripheral, the background as in From Beyond (1995), and Reunion; Salò (1998) etc. There is a sense of the unpicking , unpacking, archiving or extraction of an image as well as some confusion as to what exactly we should be looking at; what is the limit of the thing and what is its representation (see also Inverter (Clearance Sale) (1999)). There’s also an exploration of how these processes gradually influence a viewer’s perception, shaping their vision, that appears in many of Chodzko’s works eg: Nightvision, The Pickers, Settlement, O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix, and Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see etc. The negotiation with a magazine to repeat its imagery from a previous issue can also been seen in Chodzko’s front cover image for Frieze magazine ( (No. 31, Nov-Dec 1996), (apparently, slowing time, sustaining engagement, delaying the inevitable removal of the Kara Walker cover from the previous issue). The idea of time, and a cycling or looping over time, in relation to clothing (as ‘costume’) forming part of a ritual extension of bodies and transforming their possible relationships to the world appears in works such as Product Recall (1994), Baseball Hat Pyre (2003), White Magic (2005), M-path (2006), Borrowed Cold Lodge (2008), One day’s work/wear worn through (2018) etc.