A smattering of stats, places to check out and some trade-show news.
Creature Features: Iris Schieferstein’s commercial art nearly landed her in jail. Early on, the German sculptor said she realized nature was the better model maker and began incorporating roadkill in her works.
“I’ve been working with dead animals since the 1990s. I wanted to bring refuse into the museums — in the spirit of Duchamp,” she explained. “And also to let animals speak for mankind.”
However, in Germany, wild animals, whether dead or alive, are protected by conservation laws. And so the use and consequent exhibition of found cadavers, like the moles she used in their entirety for a pair of wildlife slippers, or other assorted bits and pieces assembled in her unfettered conglomerations, set the authorities on her track, armed with the threat of a six-year prison term.
That was in 2003. Today, Schieferstein is still creating her literally beastly objects, the materials now sourced from butchers or even pet owners, as German law does permit the use of any animals raised for food or, in general terms, “bred.” American law, on the other hand, wouldn’t interfere with her creations, whatever the taxidermic source. But U.S. Customs does draw the line at importing them, as Lady Gaga discovered while anxiously waiting for a pair of Schieferstein’s Vegas Girl cow hoof booties to wear with the infamous MTV Awards steak dress.
Just in time for Fashion Week, a series of Schieferstein’s admittedly fetishistic footwear, as well as two new mixed-body-part reliefs, will be featured in “To Die For.” This first show in Epicentro Art’s new gallery space in Berlin Mitte will also include works by H.P. Adamski, who was into meat dresses way before Stefani Germanotta (aka Gaga) was born. If Berlin designers find inspiration in Schieferstein’s cow hoof, horseshoe, dove, snake and other animalistic shoes, they’ll be joining the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Prada and Todd Lynn.
“My work polarizes and isn’t easy to stomach,” she admitted. “But I’ve received mail from people in Palestine, Israel and Africa who can all relate to the ambivalence of my cow shoe with the revolver heel. Images can move people. That’s the great thing about art.”
— Melissa Drier
“To Die For”
5 Joachimstrasse, 10119 Berlin Mitte
Jan. 15-Feb. 5, 2013
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m.
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