The birth of this idea to remove my make-up with adhesive tape came at an elegant museum supper one night 10 years ago, with an accusing glare followed by a rebuke from across the dinner table: ‘There’s glitter in my soup!’
I had just finished performing. I was embarrassed. In my bag, I had a roll of duct tape, and I used it there and then to remove the glittered make-up from my face. It was efficient.

I apply my make-up for hours with a pathological dose of patience and a plethora of glue. The breakdown of it this way is sudden and full of sensation. Removing the make-up leaves me feeling pulled and slapped and plucked and stripped. It is strange to make a work by unmaking one.

There is a lot of discomfort and sometimes some pain in each of these self-portraits, but there is also a consoling serenity born of art lived out and performance accomplished … Camouflage cream, powder, glitter, lipstick, sweat, DNA, some skin cells … and a whole lot of skill and patience is embedded in what we are looking at – 50 years and three hours of savoir faire.

The destruction of the artwork is in itself the creation of a new one. The doing is in the undoing … and vice versa. It’s not a mask, it’s an interface.

Steven Cohen


Nov 11 2023


Leipzig, DE


0341 980 02 84

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