Skins and Stand-Ins

Using photography, sculpture, performance and video, Swiss artist Shahryar Nashat examines how contemporary representations of human bodies imitate the model of perfection, as idealized across the ages in visual and intellectual culture.

Event Details


Carpenter Centre for Visual Arts, Harvard
24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 United States


October 29, 2015 4:30 pm - January 11, 2016 7:00 pm



The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts presents the first solo exhibition in the United States by Berlin-based, Swiss artist Shahryar Nashat. Using photography, sculpture, performance and video, Nashat examines how contemporary representations of human bodies imitate the model of perfection idealized across the ages in visual and intellectual culture. His work utilizes the slippages, faults and failures of achieving the ideal– in relation to the look and movement of human bodies– that art history, modern dance, sports, Minimalism, fashion and advertising engrain through images, museum displays, media and architecture. Nashat draws attention to the fragility and impossibility of the human body to conform. As part of these inquiries, he emphasizes the permeability of human skin and its susceptibility to scratches, punctures, and tears. In doing so he fixates on both concept and construction of the prosthetic, an extension and support for the body laden with great potential to release it from the performance expected. The artist envisions the prosthetic as a means to associate the body with something other than already-determined notions of perfection, something else, independent and autonomous.

Installed on Level 1 of Le Corbusier’s 1963 Carpenter Center, an architecture itself beset with an impossible task to perform the modernist dictum, and intervening in the galleries of the adjacent Harvard Art Museums, Shahryar Nashat’s exhibition features a combination of images, video, materials, architecture and objects that create a cohesive atmospheric environment where the sensibilities and physicality of spectators become implicated in the artist’s inquiries.

Shahryar Nashat was born in 1975 in Geneva, Switzerland, and lives and works in Berlin. Nashat uses a broad range of media including video, digital print, and photography. Recent solo exhibitions include Lauréat du prix Lafayette, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014); Replay the Ruse, Silberkuppe, Berlin (2012); Stunt, Kunstverein Hamburger Bahnhof, Hamburg (2012); and Workbench, Studio Voltaire, London (2011). His work has also been shown as part of the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Catch as Catch Can, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia (2013); When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes, CCA Wattis, San Francisco (2012); ILLUMInations at the 54th International Venice Biennale (2011); and Frieze Projects, London (2010). Nashat has been awarded the Kunstpreis der Stadt Nordhorn (2013), the Swiss Exhibition Award (2009), and the Kiefer Hablitzel Prize (2000, 2001, 2002).

Skins and Stand-Ins will be exhibiting October 29, 2015 – January 10, 2015. The opening is October 29th, 5:30 – 7:00 PM

The CCVA Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 7:00 PM