The skin is the totality of a boundary surface.
It is between us and the world. And, in this sense, both as matter and as symbol, it is an expression of that “essential” separation from our environment and from one another, which is the foundation of being.
The notion of “I” begins exactly from our own skin. As the boundary tissue between the individual and the collective, our skin sends sensory messages that allow us to demarcate the internal world from the external one. We are as far as our sense of touch can reach, but we are also an “I” that touches, demarcates and, as such, learns. The construction of our own world is born out of this constant giving shapes and limits to the things that surround us, in the continuum between incorporating and distancing the otherness.
If distance represents a fundamental requirement of human existence, it is only its relativization, or the temporary overcoming of such distance, which makes the encounter among people possible: only then do social relations begin, and the representation of identity becomes a being that’s identical to oneself, in the difference from others.
The skin is the symbol of such distance and of overcoming it, within the contact.
The skin’s integrity is threatened by the “external” nature and by the potential violence of others. And so it becomes the bearer of anxieties of an “internal” nature, which is the expressive vehicle of the psyche, of its emotional states as well as of its wounds. In this sense, the skin can be considered as an interactive element, which reacts to the inner world as well as to the external one.
Skin as identity
Skin as boundary
Skin as communication
Skin as relationship